Neuroscience

Why materialist neuroscience must necessarily remain a pseudo-discipline

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At MercatorNet today:

all that fMRI ((brain imaging) really does is show which brain areas have high oxygen levels when a person is thinking something. It simply cannot tell us what people are thinking, because many brain centres are active and those that are active may be activated for many reasons. Each brain is unique so data from studies must be averaged. But thoughts are not averaged; they belong to the individual.

Then, when you are done with that you run smack dab into the hard problem of qualia.

Qualia? As Mario Beauregard and I (Denyse O’Leary) wrote in The Spiritual Brain,

There are good reasons for thinking that the evidence for materialism will actually never arrive. For example, there is the problem of qualia. Qualia (singular, quale) are how things appear to us individually—the experiential aspects of our mental lives that can be accessed through introspection. Every person is unique, so complete understanding of another person’s consciousness is not likely possible in principle, as we saw in Chapter Four. Rather, when we communicate, we rely on general agreement on an overlapping range of meaning. For example, historian Amy Butler Greenfield has written a three-hundred-page book about one primary color, A Perfect Red.

As “the color of desire,” red is a quale if ever there was one. Reviewer Diane Ackerman notes:

Anger us, and we see red. An unfaithful woman is branded with a scarlet letter. In red-light districts, people buy carnal pleasures. We like to celebrate red-letter days and roll out the red carpet, while trying to avoid red tape, red herrings and going into the red. Indeed, fashion houses rise and fall on the subtleties of shades of red. Yet, however “red” affects us individually, we agree communally to use the word for a range of meanings and connotations, not merely a range in the color spectrum. (pp. 104–5)

Sometimes, the signals can be completely opposite and we still converge on a common meaning! In the United States, red connotes “conservative” in politics; in Canada, it connotes “liberal.”

Scan that, genius. Your first task will be to sort out the people who are exclusively Canadian in culture from those who are exclusively American in culture, and good luck with it. You picked it up; you own it.

Materialist neuroscience has a hard time with qualia because they are not easily reducible to a simple, nonconscious explanation. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, Francis Crick grumbles:

It is certainly possible that there may be aspects of consciousness, such as qualia, that science will not be able to explain. We have learned to live with such limitations in the past (e.g., limitations of quantum mechanics) and we may have to live with them again.

Crick was a real scientist, honest enough to admit that. Don’t expect quacks, cranks, and hustlers to notice, or want to. They take refuge in pseudo-disciplines, claiming that, as a book review in The Scientist put it,

“‘Brains are hot,’ Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfeld acknowledge in Brainwashed, their ‘exposé of mindless neuroscience’ (mostly practiced not by neuroscientists, they stress, but by ‘neuropundits,’ among others). The ‘mediagenic’ technology of fMRI imaging has made the brain, aglow with metabolic hotspots, into a rainbow emblem of the faith that science will soon empower us to explain, control, expose, exploit, or excuse every wayward human behavior from buying to lying, from craving to crime.”

This is not so much an unsolved problem as an unsolvable one, at least in the terms in which the materialist wants it solved.

611 Replies to “Why materialist neuroscience must necessarily remain a pseudo-discipline

  1. 1
    Barb says:

    Here is something I found interesting from the book Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work, by Drs. Paul Babiak and Robert Hare:

    “The emotional poverty of psychopaths and their inability to fully appreciate the emotional life of others have been the subject of considerable neurobiological research, some of it using brain-imaging technology.

    In several functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain imaging studies, Hare and his associates found that emotional words and unpleasant pictures did not produce in psycopaths the increases in activity of brain (limbic) regions normally associated with the processing of emotional material. Instead, activation occurred in the regions of the brain involved in the understanding and production of language, as if the psychopaths analyzed the material in linguistic terms.”

  2. 2

    Yes, indeed 🙂

    No, it’s not a pseudo-discipline, Denyse. But that does not mean it can answer philosophical questions, even though it can shed light on them.

  3. 3
    Barb says:

    The problem with fMRI imaging is that it doesn’t appear to be strong enough to be used in a court of law as credible evidence. At least not yet. I would be interested to see if it replaces the durable polygraph test to see if a person is lying.

  4. 4

    I very much hope not, Barb, and I would be absolutely against it.

    (btw, the reason I linked to that paper is because the senior author is a near relation :))

    I’m hopeful for the future or neuroimaging – I think it has a lot to offer in the field of mental health research, and may eventually be a useful diagnostic or prognostic tool. The most useful thing would be if we could use it to predict the most likely effective treatment – then perhaps we could shed the traditional labels for mental illness, and focus instead on the identifying the most effective way to help people regain mental health.

  5. 5
    News says:

    Hmmm. I could have told them something similar without doing any fMRI, just from dealing with such personality types.

    I am not discounting the value of fMRI, but so often in these matters it offers us no more than skilled external observation would. The danger is that some will insist on seeing it as a sort of voodoo, giving it more credibility, for example, than the testimony of an experienced, competent, and honest police officer. That’s where the problem starts. – O’Leary for News

  6. 6

    O’Leary:

    Hmmm. I could have told them something similar without doing any fMRI, just from dealing with such personality types.

    Well, it’s because that was an a priori hypothesis that the study was done. But it was neuroscience that allowed us to make those hypotheses in the first place – otherwise how would we even know about the limbic system?

    I am not discounting the value of fMRI, but so often in these matters it offers us no more than skilled external observation would. The danger is that some will insist on seeing it as a sort of voodoo, giving it more credibility, for example, than the testimony of an experienced, competent, and honest police officer. That’s where the problem starts. – O’Leary for News

    I agree, and more to the point, than a skilled psychiatrist. The Ground Truthing has to be done at the level of the actual patient – no point in saying “this person has schizophrenia” on the basis of an fMRI scan for instance, if they are perfectly fine, and even worse to say “this person is a psychopath” if they are patently kindly people who wouldn’t hurt a fly.

    Where the ethical issue gets tricky though is when someone is serving a life-sentence and comes up for parole, and some estimate needs to be be made about the risk they pose. I can see fMRI being used for that (or other neuroimaging techniques). That would still worry me, I think.

    But for patient benefit, it would be great – to be able to assess, for example, risk of relapse, or self-harm. There, neuroimaging might well prove to be better than clinical estimates.

  7. 7
    keiths says:

    To those who believe in an immaterial soul, let me repeat my invitation from yesterday:

    Hi UDers,

    I have a new post at TSZ:

    Split-brain patients and the dire implications for the soul

    In it, I explain why observations of split-brain patients pose a serious challenge to those who believe “that each of us has an immaterial mind or soul that constitutes our true self, and that the body, including the brain, is merely a vehicle ‘inhabited’ and controlled by the mind or soul.”

    I know that many of you believe in immaterial souls, so I would be interested in hearing how you can reconcile — and if you can reconcile — your belief in the soul with the fascinating characteristics of split-brain patients.

    I would of course prefer that you post your comments at TSZ, but here is fine too if you are TSZ-averse.

  8. 8

    FWIW, I believe in a material soul 🙂 What is more, I believe that the greater empathy we have for each other, which is an almostly uniquely human quality, the more our souls are merged. The ideal meta-soul is one in which there is total empathy between all, and we are united in one universal soul. I sometimes call that God.

    I mean this perfectly seriously.

  9. 9
    keiths says:

    Lizzie,

    FWIW, I believe in a material soul 🙂

    Me too, which is why I’m typically careful to use the phrase “immaterial soul” when talking about the traditional concept.

    The brain has pretty much all of the qualities you’d want a soul to have, except perhaps for immortality.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, interesting though not nearly as troubling to the mind/brain position as you seem to think. For instance, Hemispherectomies come to mind in which half the brain is removed in epileptic patients. The results in the patients after the operation, while explaining the seemingly enigmatic facets of your observations, contain elements which are inexplicable to your ‘brain only’ worldview:.

    Strange but True: When Half a Brain Is Better than a Whole One – May 2007
    Excerpt: Most Hopkins hemispherectomy patients are five to 10 years old. Neurosurgeons have performed the operation on children as young as three months old. Astonishingly, memory and personality develop normally. ,,,
    Another study found that children that underwent hemispherectomies often improved academically once their seizures stopped. “One was champion bowler of her class, one was chess champion of his state, and others are in college doing very nicely,” Freeman says.
    Of course, the operation has its downside: “You can walk, run—some dance or skip—but you lose use of the hand opposite of the hemisphere that was removed. You have little function in that arm and vision on that side is lost,” Freeman says. Remarkably, few other impacts are seen. ,,,
    http://www.scientificamerican......than-whole

    Miracle Of Mind-Brain Recovery Following Hemispherectomies – Dr. Ben Carson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994585/

    Removing Half of Brain Improves Young Epileptics’ Lives:
    Excerpt: “We are awed by the apparent retention of memory and by the retention of the child’s personality and sense of humor,” Dr. Eileen P. G. Vining; In further comment from the neuro-surgeons in the John Hopkins study: “Despite removal of one hemisphere, the intellect of all but one of the children seems either unchanged or improved. Intellect was only affected in the one child who had remained in a coma, vigil-like state, attributable to peri-operative complications.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08.....lives.html

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    The old joke

    “Of all the things I’ve lost I think I miss my mind the most”

    ,,Should literally be the materialist’s mantra. Nobody in their ‘right mind’ lives as though they have no mind. In fact they’d be psychopaths:

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    But to get to the brass tax of empirical evidence,, There are solid studies that have shown that mental intention precedes neuronal firing:

    In The Wonder Of Being Human: Our Brain and Our Mind, Eccles and Robinson discussed the research of three groups of scientists (Robert Porter and Cobie Brinkman, Nils Lassen and Per Roland, and Hans Kornhuber and Luder Deeke), all of whom produced startling and undeniable evidence that a “mental intention” preceded an actual neuronal firing – thereby establishing that the mind is not the same thing as the brain, but is a separate entity altogether.,,

    “As I remarked earlier, this may present an “insuperable” difficulty for some scientists of materialists bent, but the fact remains, and is demonstrated by research, that non-material mind acts on material brain.”
    Sir John Eccles – Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1963 – (as quoted in Cousins, 1985, pp. 61-62,85-86)

    But atheists always try to hide within the complexity of the brain to say that mental intention did not precede neuronal firing. Here is the refutation of the latest attempt by materialists to dodge the reality of the mind:

    Brain might not stand in the way of free will – August 2012
    Excerpt: “Libet argued that our brain has already decided to move well before we have a conscious intention to move,” says Schurger. “We argue that what looks like a pre-conscious decision process may not in fact reflect a decision at all. It only looks that way because of the nature of spontaneous brain activity.”
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....-will.html

    And although Theists have (IMHO) as far as evidence of this sort is concerned, by far, the strongest hand empirically and philosophically for the reality of the mind over the atheists’ contention for ‘only a brain’, the atheists could always, because of the complexity being dealt with, play a sort of cat a mouse game in this area.,,, But science progresses and the progress of science could care less about whether atheists, or anybody else, is able to maintain their a priori philosophical beliefs.,, and in that line of progress, Quantum Mechanics has now unambiguously shown that free will is an intrinsic part of reality,,, In the following experiment, the claim that past material states determine future conscious choices (determinism) is falsified by the fact that present conscious choices effect past material states:

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    In other words, if my conscious choices really are just merely the result of whatever state the material particles in my brain happen to be in in the past (deterministic) how in blue blazes are my choices instantaneously effecting the state of material particles into the past?,,, The materialist simply has no place to hide anymore, as he did in the mind/brain correlation studies. It is clear simple and direct refutation of the materialists position!,,, Of semi-related notes:

    The Hard Problem (Of Consciousness) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRG1fA_DQ9s

    The Mental Universe – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: The only reality is mind and observations, but observations are not of things. To see the Universe as it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things.,,, Physicists shy away from the truth because the truth is so alien to everyday physics. A common way to evade the mental universe is to invoke “decoherence” – the notion that “the physical environment” is sufficient to create reality, independent of the human mind. Yet the idea that any irreversible act of amplification is necessary to collapse the wave function is known to be wrong: in “Renninger-type” experiments, the wave function is collapsed simply by your human mind seeing nothing. The universe is entirely mental,,,, The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/The.mental.universe.pdf

    The Renninger Negative Result Experiment – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3uzSlh_CV0

    etc.. etc.. etc..

    Verse and music:

    Luke 10:27
    He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

    Nickelback – Lullaby
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_wfoY56JGc

  12. 12
    Eugen says:

    Keiths

    I can’t see how split brain issue can be a problem for theists. I didn’t read much on the topic but I think split brain patients are still identifying themselves as one person. Even some people without such operation have a split personality.

    Operation is such trauma for the brain which was used to having two somewhat different processing units working together. Lets call halves of the brain an electro chemical holographic processors. While processors were connected they cooperated in making decisions. Suddenly the the path of interaction between the two halves is interrupted, broken. Peculiar behavior which patients get into after the operation should be no surprise.

    Space Shuttle used to have three cooperating processors. Same data was inputted to all and after processing, decisions were made by “consensus” or by “voting” – two against one.

  13. 13
    keiths says:

    Hi Eugen,

    I can’t see how split brain issue can be a problem for theists.

    Not for theists per se, but it’s a huge problem for people who believe in an immaterial soul that is the ‘true self’ — the seat of will, consciousness, morality, rationality, etc.

    I didn’t read much on the topic but I think split brain patients are still identifying themselves as one person.

    Sure, but that’s because only the left hemisphere controls speech. It thinks it is the person, and it says so. Did you watch the two videos I linked to in the body of the OP? The right hemisphere can communicate by pointing, while the left hemisphere can speak.
    link, link

    The evidence shows that one hemisphere can know things the other hemisphere doesn’t know. One hemisphere can believe things the other hemisphere doesn’t believe (in Ramachandran’s amazing example, one hemisphere was theist and the other was atheist). One hemisphere can try to do things, and the other hemisphere can try to stop it (e.g. the man who attacked his wife with one arm and defended her with the other).

    How does a believer in the soul explain that? Does the soul split in two when the corpus callosum is cut? If so, why? And if the soul remains “in one piece”, then why does one hemisphere know, believe, desire, and do things that the other hemisphere does not? If you admit that each of the hemispheres does its own knowing, believing, desiring, etc., then you are admitting that the soul does not do these things — the brain does.

    It’s a tremendous problem for the dualist.

  14. 14

    It’s not, however, a problem for the material soul 🙂

    In my model, we are all partly shared souls, and the more we understand each other (literally “see from another’s point of view” or “feel another’s pain”) the more shared we are. As a nice converse of the split-brain patients, there are twins who are so alike they are not fully separate – they complete each other’s sentences, and move in almost perfect unison.

    I’d say those two souls are nearly one. In the split-brain patient, one soul is nearly two. But there are other ways for the two brain halves to communicate than via the corpus collosum – there are other physiological connections too, and the language-speaking “half” can literally tell the other half things. This is one form of therapy. So just as two people who are close can almost become one, it’s possible that a nearly-two-souled person can move towards becoming one.

    But I’m not talking about an immaterial soul (though I guess you could adapt my “solution” :)). I’m talking about the perfectly straightforward, if wonderful, processes by which we understand one another’s minds, as well as our own. Hofstadter’s Strange Loops.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    To make the case for a transcendent soul, let’s look at quantum entanglement first:

    Here is a clip of a talk in which Alain Aspect, along with a bit of the history of the debate between Einstein and Bohr, talks about the failure of ‘local realism’, or the failure of reductive materialism, to explain quantum entanglement with ‘hidden variables’:

    The Failure Of Local Realism – Reductive Materialism – Alain Aspect – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4744145

    The falsification for local realism (reductive materialism) as to trying to explain quantum entanglement, was recently greatly strengthened:

    Physicists close two loopholes while violating local realism – November 2010
    Excerpt: The latest test in quantum mechanics provides even stronger support than before for the view that nature violates local realism and is thus in contradiction with a classical worldview.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....alism.html

    Quantum Measurements: Common Sense Is Not Enough, Physicists Show – July 2009
    Excerpt: scientists have now proven comprehensively in an experiment for the first time that the experimentally observed phenomena cannot be described by non-contextual models with hidden variables.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142824.htm

    Closing the last Bell-test loophole for photons – Jun 11, 2013
    Excerpt: In the years since, many “Bell tests” have been performed, but critics have identified several conditions (known as loopholes) in which the results could be considered inconclusive. For entangled photons, there have been three major loopholes; two were closed by previous experiments. The remaining problem, known as the “detection-efficiency/fair sampling loophole,” results from the fact that, until now, the detectors employed in experiments have captured an insufficiently large fraction of the photons, and the photon sources have been insufficiently efficient. The validity of such experiments is thus dependent on the assumption that the detected photons are a statistically fair sample of all the photons. That, in turn, leaves open the possibility that, if all the photon data were known, they could be described by local realism.
    The new research, conducted at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Communication in Austria, closes the fair-sampling loophole by using improved photon sources (spontaneous parametric down-conversion in a Sagnac configuration) and ultra-sensitive detectors provided by the Single Photonics and Quantum Information project in PML’s Quantum Electronics and Photonics Division. That combination, the researchers write, was “crucial for achieving a sufficiently high collection efficiency,” resulting in a high-accuracy data set – requiring no assumptions or correction of count rates – that confirmed quantum entanglement to nearly 70 standard deviations.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2013-06-b.....otons.html

    The following recent article by Sal gives us a small glimpse as to what it truly means for non-local entanglement to be confirmed to an order of ’70 standard deviations’:

    SSDD: a 22 sigma event is consistent with the physics of fair coins? – June 23, 2013
    Excerpt: So 500 coins heads is (500-250)/11 = 22 standard deviations (22 sigma) from expectation! These numbers are so extreme, it’s probably inappropriate to even use the normal distribution’s approximation of the binomial distribution, and hence “22 sigma” just becomes a figure of speech in this extreme case…
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....air-coins/

    The following study added to the falsification of local realism from another angle:

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: To derive their inequality, which sets up a measurement of entanglement between four particles, the researchers considered what behaviours are possible for four particles that are connected by influences that stay hidden and that travel at some arbitrary finite speed.
    Mathematically (and mind-bogglingly), these constraints define an 80-dimensional object. The testable hidden influence inequality is the boundary of the shadow this 80-dimensional shape casts in 44 dimensions. The researchers showed that quantum predictions can lie outside this boundary, which means they are going against one of the assumptions. Outside the boundary, either the influences can’t stay hidden, or they must have infinite speed.,,,
    The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142217.htm

    Where this ‘outside space and time’ quantum entanglement gains traction as to establishing a transcendent soul for each man is here. Quantum entanglement/information has now been found in molecular biology on a massive scale:

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – Elisabeth Rieper – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    Quantum entanglement between the electron clouds of nucleic acids in DNA – Elisabeth Rieper, Janet Anders and Vlatko Vedral – February 2011
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxi.....4053v2.pdf

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    It turns out, besides DNA, that quantum entanglement/information has been confirmed to be deeply embedded in protein structures as well;

    Coherent Intrachain energy migration at room temperature – Elisabetta Collini and Gregory Scholes – University of Toronto – Science, 323, (2009), pp. 369-73
    Excerpt: The authors conducted an experiment to observe quantum coherence dynamics in relation to energy transfer. The experiment, conducted at room temperature, examined chain conformations, such as those found in the proteins of living cells. Neighbouring molecules along the backbone of a protein chain were seen to have coherent energy transfer. Where this happens quantum decoherence (the underlying tendency to loss of coherence due to interaction with the environment) is able to be resisted, and the evolution of the system remains entangled as a single quantum state.
    http://www.scimednet.org/quant.....d-protein/

    Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding – February 22, 2011
    Quantum mechanics finally explains why protein folding depends on temperature in such a strange way.
    Excerpt: First, a little background on protein folding. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that become biologically active only when they fold into specific, highly complex shapes. The puzzle is how proteins do this so quickly when they have so many possible configurations to choose from.
    To put this in perspective, a relatively small protein of only 100 amino acids can take some 10^100 different configurations. If it tried these shapes at the rate of 100 billion a second, it would take longer than the age of the universe to find the correct one. Just how these molecules do the job in nanoseconds, nobody knows.,,,
    Their astonishing result is that this quantum transition model fits the folding curves of 15 different proteins and even explains the difference in folding and unfolding rates of the same proteins.
    That’s a significant breakthrough. Luo and Lo’s equations amount to the first universal laws of protein folding. That’s the equivalent in biology to something like the thermodynamic laws in physics.
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....f-protein/

    Moreover, These following studies indicate that quantum information cannot be destroyed (i.e. quantum information is found to be ‘conserved’)

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time – March 2011
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    Quantum no-deleting theorem
    Excerpt: A stronger version of the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem provide permanence to quantum information. To create a copy one must import the information from some part of the universe and to delete a state one needs to export it to another part of the universe where it will continue to exist.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....onsequence

    related note:

    The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings – Steve Talbott
    Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary.
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-of-beings

    clear implications of all this?

    Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – Stuart Hameroff – video (notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/29895068

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness (Permanence of Quantum Information)- Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video
    https://vimeo.com/39982578

    And if the ’70 standard deviations’ establishment of quantum entanglement is not strong enough for some:

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: Markus Aspelmeyer, Anton Zeilinger and colleagues from the University of Vienna, however, have now shown that realism is more of a problem than locality in the quantum world. They devised an experiment that violates a different inequality proposed by physicist Anthony Leggett in 2003 that relies only on realism, and relaxes the reliance on locality. To do this, rather than taking measurements along just one plane of polarization, the Austrian team took measurements in additional, perpendicular planes to check for elliptical polarization.
    They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”

    A team of physicists in Vienna has devised experiments that may answer one of the enduring riddles of science: Do we create the world just by looking at it? – 2008
    Excerpt: Leggett’s theory was more powerful than Bell’s because it required that light’s polarization be measured not just like the second hand on a clock face, but over an entire sphere. In essence, there were an infinite number of clock faces on which the second hand could point. For the experimenters this meant that they had to account for an infinite number of possible measurement settings. So Zeilinger’s group rederived Leggett’s theory for a finite number of measurements. There were certain directions the polarization would more likely face in quantum mechanics. This test was more stringent. In mid-2007 Fedrizzi found that the new realism model was violated by 80 orders of magnitude; the group was even more assured that quantum mechanics was correct.
    http://seedmagazine.com/conten....._tests/P3/

    The clear implication is noted here:

    “I’m going to talk about the Bell inequality, and more importantly a new inequality that you might not have heard of called the Leggett inequality, that was recently measured. It was actually formulated almost 30 years ago by Professor Leggett, who is a Nobel Prize winner, but it wasn’t tested until about a year and a half ago (in 2007), when an article appeared in Nature, that the measurement was made by this prominent quantum group in Vienna led by Anton Zeilinger, which they measured the Leggett inequality, which actually goes a step deeper than the Bell inequality and rules out any possible interpretation other than consciousness creates reality when the measurement is made.” – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D., Calphysics Institute, is an astrophysicist and author of over 130 scientific publications. – quote taken from “Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness – A New Measurement” video lecture

    Verse and music:

    Matthew 10:28
    Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

    Creed – My Sacrifice
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-fyNgHdmLI

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    Now keiths, I certainly don’t think your split brain evidence is nearly as strong as you think it is as to falsifying the mind, especially concerning the fact that you got the hemispherectomy evidence I cited directly contradicting your hypothesis, in fact, considering nuances revealed in hemispherectomies, I would hold it explains it much better than your hypothesis of ‘only brain’ does. Moreover, you got direct falsification from quantum mechanics to deal with! Or do you like most Darwinists, ignore all crushing evidence against your position and only concentrate where you can hide in the shadows of complexity???

  18. 18
    keiths says:

    bornagain,

    How about responding directly, in your own words, to this part of my comment to Eugen:

    The evidence shows that one hemisphere can know things the other hemisphere doesn’t know. One hemisphere can believe things the other hemisphere doesn’t believe (in Ramachandran’s amazing example, one hemisphere was theist and the other was atheist). One hemisphere can try to do things, and the other hemisphere can try to stop it (e.g. the man who attacked his wife with one arm and defended her with the other).

    How does a believer in the soul explain that? Does the soul split in two when the corpus callosum is cut? If so, why? And if the soul remains “in one piece”, then why does one hemisphere know, believe, desire, and do things that the other hemisphere does not? If you admit that each of the hemispheres does its own knowing, believing, desiring, etc., then you are admitting that the soul does not do these things — the brain does.

    It’s a tremendous problem for the dualist.

    How do you — bornagain77 — answer those questions?

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    I hold certain information patterns to be imprinted on the brain, and when communication is impaired between the two halfs then conflicting signals of information will arise towards the mind.,,, In fact the hemispherectomy evidence I cited shows an entire half of the brain being removed so as to eliminate the conflicting (undesirable) signals that were arising from one half of the brain, and yet, this is directly contradictory to your ‘only brain’ hypothesis, in that the patients were not ‘less than’ the person then they were before save for some physical impairment. i.e. Argument from divisibility:

    Case for the Existence of the Soul – (Argument from Divisibility) – JP Moreland PhD – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ge#t=2304s

    All in all you evidence is very weak when all things are considered and countervailing evidence is allowed to weigh in! Moreover, the quantum mechanical evidence I cited completely bypasses all this and goes directly to the heart of the matter and falsifies your materialistic worldview directly. ,,, Now when you can show me something, anything, with ’70 standard deviations’ certainty for materialism, perhaps you will have a leg to stand on, but as it is now, you merely have some interesting anecdotal evidence that does nothing as to addressing the far larger problems, scientifically, that you have looming over your position!

  20. 20
    keiths says:

    bornagain,

    Your explanation doesn’t make sense.

    It would help if you would answer the specific questions I posed. Please answer the questions — each one — and then I will respond.

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, I did respond. You did’nt like my responce and you are purposely ducking the quantum evidence which directly falsifies you!,,, Moreover,,,

    Bridging the Gap – October 2011
    Excerpt: Like a bridge that spans a river to connect two major metropolises, the corpus callosum is the main conduit for information flowing between the left and right hemispheres of our brains. Now, neuroscientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have found that people who are born without that link—a condition called agenesis of the corpus callosum, or AgCC—still show remarkably normal communication across the gap between the two halves of their brains.
    http://media.caltech.edu/press_releases/13465

    now how is that possible if your hypothesis is rigidly true? keiths, you got to many holes in your theory!

  22. 22
    keiths says:

    bornagain,

    You seem to be afraid to answer the questions I posed. Why is that?

    I also see that you’ve been Googling “corpus callosum”, desperately searching for something — anything — to quote.

    The Caltech study doesn’t help your case. All it shows is that alternate communication pathways develop in people who are born without a corpus callosum.

    You need to explain the opposite situation. In an adult whose corpus callosum is cut, the hemispheres lose communication. One hemisphere can believe, know, think and choose things that the other does not.

    Here are some questions that I hope you will have the courage to answer:

    1. How is that possible if there is a single soul that does all the believing, knowing, thinking, and choosing? If the soul ties the hemispheres together, they should believe, know, think and choose the same things. They don’t. One hemisphere can even be a theist while the other is an atheist! How do you explain that?

    2. Is there one soul before the operation, and two afterwards? If so, why does cutting the corpus callosum cut the soul in two? Why should an immaterial soul be affected by a physical operation?

    3. Do you agree that the evidence shows that each hemisphere does its own knowing, believing, thinking and choosing? If not, why not? What alternate explanation can you offer for the observations concerning split-brain patients?

    (A commenter named Steve suggested at TSZ, in all apparent seriousness, that aplit-brain patients were an example of spirit possession. I hope you can do better than that.)

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths I am certainly not afraid of your evidence seeing as number, I presented countervailing evidence (hemispherectomies) that explains the nuances and provides an additional conundrum you can’t explain, and number 2, I presented evidence from quantum mechanics that has completely blown your materialistic presuppositions clean out of the water. THOSE ARE NOT MINOR POINTS!!! You atheists are really something, you guys completely ignore little facts like being falsified by our best science or that you can’t even explain the origination of a single neuron by purely material processes much less a whole brain by purely material processes and then when you guys think you got some minor quirk in the brain that can’t be explained by theism, or perhaps an inverted retina which was ‘poorly designed’, or etc.. you guys jump all over it as if you are being sincere in your science, all the while ignoring the fact you have no foundation in science in the first place. Perhaps you should ask yourself, why are you being so dishonest as to how the evidence actually sits? Why are you letting you atheism dictate what evidence you consider important? etc..

  24. 24
    Joe says:

    LoL!@keiths:

    If there were a single, immaterial mind, it would know what both hemispheres know.

    It might, however given the hardware issue, it may not be able to do anything about it.

    Why should an immaterial soul be affected by a physical operation?

    For the same reason that immaterial software is affected by the material hardware.

  25. 25
    keiths says:

    Joe,

    That makes no sense. Split-brain patients can talk. If the soul knows something, why can’t it just say so?

    The obvious answer: there is no soul. When you cut the connection between the hemispheres, the communication channel is gone. There is no soul to bridge the gap.

  26. 26
    keiths says:

    keiths:

    Why should an immaterial soul be affected by a physical operation?

    Joe:

    For the same reason that immaterial software is affected by the material hardware.

    Software can’t run without hardware. Do you think the soul stops functioning when the body dies?

    If so, most of your dualist friends won’t like that idea.

  27. 27
    Joe says:

    Software can’t run without hardware.

    Software can run improperly given malfunctioning hardware.

    Do you think the soul stops functioning when the body dies?

    I think even a good soul cannot repair a malfunctioning brain.

    If the soul knows something, why can’t it just say so?

    It’s being repressed or misrepresented by a malfunctioning person.

  28. 28
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths,

    Software can’t run without hardware. Do you think the soul stops functioning when the body dies?

    that’s pretty simplistic in your thinking kieths especially considering that I showed you ‘conserved’ transcendent component to life already (i.e. quantum entanglement on a massive scale within your body). i.e your philosophical bias is showing!,,, Why don’t you put the anything close to the same standards on Darwinian evidence as you do to research for souls keiths?

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species (or origin of life, or origin of a protein), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    “A recent analysis of several hundred cases showed that 48% of near-death experiencers reported seeing their physical bodies from a different visual perspective. Many of them also reported witnessing events going on in the vicinity of their body, such as the attempts of medical personnel to resuscitate them (Kelly et al., 2007).”
    Kelly, E. W., Greyson, B., & Kelly, E. F. (2007). Unusual experiences near death and related phenomena. In E. F. Kelly, E. W. Kelly, A. Crabtree, A. Gauld, M. Grosso, & B. Greyson, Irreducible mind (pp. 367-421). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Michaela’s Amazing NEAR death experience – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....age#t=629s

    One can see that severe bias of atheists being played out in the following research where the atheistic researchers, who set out to prove Near Death Experiences illusory, were unable to accept the conclusion of what there own ‘unexpected’ evidence was telling them

    Memories of Near Death Experiences (NDEs): More Real Than Reality? – Mar. 27, 2013
    Excerpt: University of Liège researchers have demonstrated that the physiological mechanisms triggered during NDE lead to a more vivid perception not only of imagined events in the history of an individual but also of real events which have taken place in their lives!,,,
    ,,,researchers,, have looked into the memories of NDE with the hypothesis that if the memories of NDE were pure products of the imagination, their phenomenological characteristics (e.g., sensorial, self referential, emotional, etc. details) should be closer to those of imagined memories. Conversely, if the NDE are experienced in a way similar to that of reality, their characteristics would be closer to the memories of real events.
    The researchers compared the responses provided by three groups of patients, each of which had survived (in a different manner) a coma, and a group of healthy volunteers. They studied the memories of NDE and the memories of real events and imagined events with the help of a questionnaire which evaluated the phenomenological characteristics of the memories. The results were surprising. From the perspective being studied, not only were the NDEs not similar to the memories of imagined events, but the phenomenological characteristics inherent to the memories of real events (e.g. memories of sensorial details) are even more numerous in the memories of NDE than in the memories of real events.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....190359.htm

    A Doctor’s Near Death Experience Inspires a New Life – video
    Quote: “It’s not like a dream. It’s like the world we are living in is a dream and it’s kind of like waking up from that.”
    Dr. Magrisso
    http://www.nbcchicago.com/on-a.....31791.html

    Of related note: One of the more fascinating branches of Near Death Studies have been the studies of people who were born blind who have had NDE’s, who could see for the first time in their life during their NDE. This simply has no explanation within the materialistic framework, whereas, in the theistic framework, this is expected:

    Blind Woman Can See During Near Death Experience (NDE) – Pim von Lommel – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994599/

    Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper (1997) conducted a study of 31 blind people, many of who reported vision during their Near Death Experiences (NDEs). 21 of these people had had an NDE while the remaining 10 had had an out-of-body experience (OBE), but no NDE. It was found that in the NDE sample, about half had been blind from birth. (of note: This ‘anomaly’ is also found for deaf people who can hear sound during their Near Death Experiences(NDEs).)
    http://www.newdualism.org/nde-.....-147-1.pdf

    Nice consistent finding for a soul, which is exactly what one should like in his evidence if he were being objective in his research!

    Of note keiths, perhaps you can write this Harvard neurosurgeon with your, ahem, devastating split brain evidence so as to stop him from encouraging millions of people about life after death

    A neurosurgeon confronts the non-material nature of consciousness – December 2011
    Excerpted quote: To me one thing that has emerged from my experience and from very rigorous analysis of that experience over several years, talking it over with others that I respect in neuroscience, and really trying to come up with an answer, is that consciousness outside of the brain is a fact. It’s an established fact. And of course, that was a hard place for me to get, coming from being a card-toting reductive materialist over decades. It was very difficult to get to knowing that consciousness, that there’s a soul of us that is not dependent on the brain.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ciousness/

    The Easter Question – Eben Alexander, M.D. – March 2013
    Excerpt: More than ever since my near death experience, I consider myself a Christian -,,,
    Now, I can tell you that if someone had asked me, in the days before my NDE, what I thought of this (Easter) story, I would have said that it was lovely. But it remained just that — a story. To say that the physical body of a man who had been brutally tortured and killed could simply get up and return to the world a few days later is to contradict every fact we know about the universe. It wasn’t simply an unscientific idea. It was a downright anti-scientific one.
    But it is an idea that I now believe. Not in a lip-service way. Not in a dress-up-it’s-Easter kind of way. I believe it with all my heart, and all my soul.,,
    We are, really and truly, made in God’s image. But most of the time we are sadly unaware of this fact. We are unconscious both of our intimate kinship with God, and of His constant presence with us. On the level of our everyday consciousness, this is a world of separation — one where people and objects move about, occasionally interacting with each other, but where essentially we are always alone.
    But this cold dead world of separate objects is an illusion. It’s not the world we actually live in.,,,
    ,,He (God) is right here with each of us right now, seeing what we see, suffering what we suffer… and hoping desperately that we will keep our hope and faith in Him. Because that hope and faith will be triumphant.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....79741.html

    etc..

  29. 29
    keiths says:

    bornagain,

    Somehow I’m not surprised that you won’t answer my questions.

    Instead, you keep mentioning hemispherectomies and quantum mechanics. But the hemispherectomy evidence doesn’t explain the split-brain cases, and neither does quantum mechanics.

    Why do you keep mentioning them when they don’t help you explain the split-brain observations?

    Also, why do the following questions frighten you? You have an opportunity to answer them decisively and make the strongest possible case for the existence of an immaterial soul. Why pass up this great opportunity?

    Here are the questions again:

    One hemisphere can believe, know, think and choose things that the other does not.

    Here are some questions that I hope you will have the courage to answer:

    1. How is that possible if there is a single soul that does all the believing, knowing, thinking, and choosing? If the soul ties the hemispheres together, they should believe, know, think and choose the same things. They don’t. One hemisphere can even be a theist while the other is an atheist! How do you explain that?

    2. Is there one soul before the operation, and two afterwards? If so, why does cutting the corpus callosum cut the soul in two? Why should an immaterial soul be affected by a physical operation?

    3. Do you agree that the evidence shows that each hemisphere does its own knowing, believing, thinking and choosing? If not, why not? What alternate explanation can you offer for the observations concerning split-brain patients?

  30. 30
    keiths says:

    Joe:

    Software can run improperly given malfunctioning hardware…I think even a good soul cannot repair a malfunctioning brain.

    You didn’t answer my question:

    Software can’t run without hardware. Do you think the soul stops functioning when the body dies?

    If so, most of your dualist friends won’t like that idea.

    keiths:

    If the soul knows something, why can’t it just say so?

    Joe:

    It’s being repressed or misrepresented by a malfunctioning person.

    If the soul does the thinking and calls the shots, how can splitting the brain prevent it from continuing to do so? Are you really claiming that the soul no longer has control of the body after the corpus callosum is cut? Do you think the soul is no longer capable of speaking, and the body is talking on “automatic”?

  31. 31
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, Are you being purposely obtuse? I know that is a redundant question to ask an atheist, but anyways get real! Hemisopherectomies, regardless of your willed blindness, directly answer your question in that brain malfunction in one hemisphere is shown to have a dramatic negative effect on a whole person, who is certainly not ‘willing’ the seizures to happen. Moreover the result of hemispherectomy operation is that the ‘whole person’ comes out unscathed once the malfunctioning ‘hardware’, to use Joe’s term, is removed. This explains your split brain anomaly and presents you, as a atheistic materialist, with the inexplicable conundrum as to why the ‘whole person’ is unscathed in such radical surgery removing half the brain. THAT IS NOT A MINOR POINT KEITHS!! If you were not so wedded to your dogmatic atheistic view of reality perhaps you could see this. i.e. The evidence you place so much faith in, or is that ‘lack of faith’ in, is pathetically weak when viewed objectively and all facts are brought in to be weighed instead of just cherry picked as you wish to do! Moreover Why do you place so much weight on this cherry picked evidence and refuse to address the fact that quantum mechanics has falsified your materialistic/atheistic worldview by ’70 standard deviations’ and ’80 orders of magnitude’ respectfully? i.e. Why is not the fact that our best science about how we interact with reality at the most foundational level completely falsifies atheism/materialism by such staggering degree not important to you? i.e. your bias is showing dude!

  32. 32
    5for says:

    BA, you can run, but you can’t hide from the onlookers..

  33. 33
    bornagain77 says:

    5for, whatever,,, I’m comfortable with the evidence I have presented thus far for my position since I have, in fact, refuted his position all the way down to the foundation of reality itself, have presented evidence from physics for the reality of the souls and have severely compromised his cherry picked evidence. All in all not a bad day.

  34. 34
    keiths says:

    bornagain,

    Hemispherectomy is almost always done on children, because their brains are plastic enough to recover function after the operation. If there is a soul, then why should it make a difference? Shouldn’t hemispherectomies work just as well on adults as on children?

    Likewise, if the cerebral hemispheres aren’t important, than why do cerebral strokes damage important functions?

    And one of the most glaringly obvious questions for the dualist: If the soul is the seat of knowledge, belief, memory, choice, etc., then why does Alzheimer’s disease impair these functions?

    Alzheimer’s patients can end up forgetting who they are, who they’re married to, what their children look like, etc. If the soul is the seat of memory, why do they forget these things? On the other hand, if the soul is not the seat of memory, but the brain is (and this is obviously true), then we forget everything the moment our brain dies. Are you comfortable with the idea that all souls have amnesia?

    I also notice that you still haven’t answered my questions. Why? If you are as confident in your position as you claim to be, they should be a piece of cake.

    Here are some more questions: What do you think about the patient whose right hemisphere believes in God and whose left hemisphere is an atheist? Is that person’s soul a theist or an atheist? How can you tell? Does only one hemisphere have a soul? If so, where does the hemisphere without a soul get its knowledge, beliefs, etc.?

    These are very difficult questions for someone in your position. I understand why they make you uncomfortable, and why you’d rather not answer them. Couldn’t you just be honest and admit that?

  35. 35
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, as is typical of atheists, you are just explaining away evidence you don’t like. Regardless of your excuse making, having a ‘whole person’, personality wise, come out unscathed after a hemispherectomy is simply devastating to your a-priori materialistic position, period, especially considering that physical impairment followed an overall predicted pattern whilst the base personality of the person did not! For crying out loud this fact directly answers your questions and presents you with a conumdrum you can’t honestly answer save to wave your hands as you just did!!! ,,,, You claim amnesia presents a problem for a theists,,, REALLY? Have you not ever heard of the complete life review in Near Death Experiences where every minute detail of the persons life is reviewed, in panoramic fashion, in the presence of God?,,, Not mention I referenced people who were blind from birth who could see for the first time,, you seem to give far more power to the soul over severe ‘hardware malfunctions’ of the body/brain in this lifetime than is warranted. You seem to be far more impressed with your questions than I am. For instance the only one I’m really interested in, which you did not even provide a specific reference for (unprofessional on your part for I certainly do not trust anything atheists say without reference), is the atheist-theist one you mentioned. Now this is curious, was this guy a split personality like Cybil or something like that or was he just one person who flipped between opinions on his belief about God? Either way the question and answer will be interesting and I look forward to you providing a solid reference so that I can look his case history over a bit more carefully, but I certainly don’t foresee this case turning over all the evidence I have presented to you from quantum mechanics. Basically keiths, as far as hard core science is concerned, you have no foundation within science anymore! Or as Rutherford said:

    Physics is the only real science, everything else is stamp collecting! 🙂

  36. 36
    keiths says:

    bornagain,

    For instance the only one I’m really interested in, which you did not even provide a specific reference for (unprofessional on your part for I certainly do not trust anything atheists say without reference), is the atheist-theist one you mentioned.

    Geez, BA, didn’t you even follow the link I gave to my TSZ post? See my first comment in this thread.

    The Ramachandran video includes the description of the patient with one theist hemisphere and one atheist hemisphere.

    Make sure you watch the other two videos as well. The links are in the middle of the OP at TSZ.

    Unprofessional, indeed.

  37. 37
    Eugen says:

    Keiths

    “Here are some more questions: What do you think about the patient whose right hemisphere believes in God and whose left hemisphere is an atheist?”

    That’s easy, the right hemisphere is correct! 🙂
    I think you and Bornagain discussed pretty much all that could be about this topic. Like Bornagain said, the patient as a person is intact. For example, if split brain patient’s name was Richard Dawkins….wait that would be a good example for half brain patient 🙂

    Anyway, if split brain patient’s name was John Smith and we ask him: “John, do you feel as one person?” I think he would answer “Yes.”. The self aware consciousness or mind or thought controller is still John Smith, not two persons.

    I understand experiments with patients show peculiar new behavior but that would be expected. Brain hemispheres were once connected and person developed like that from childhood. Cutting connections between two cooperating processors is quite an event. If anything, it’s amazing how it all still works after something severe as that.

    “Alzheimer’s patients can end up forgetting who they are, who they’re married to, what their children look like, etc. If the soul is the seat of memory, why do they forget these things?”

    In this reality we depend on all our material components working correctly. Unfortunately components eventually fail, we suffer and die. Does the self aware consciousness or mind or thought controller disappear when person dies? There are strong clues it doesn’t, just read the links on near death experience above. Also, ask yourself these questions re. the brain as one of our main parts/components:

    Are neurons or axons or synapses or electro chemical potentials or patterns of electro chemical potentials conscious/aware of themselves?
    What or who is conscious/aware of itself?

    If we have materialistic answer maybe you are right.

  38. 38
    bornagain77 says:

    kieths, I don’t go to TMZ since I consider the administrator of that blog as one of the most intellectually dishonest people I have ever met in my life., and thus consider posters who post there and video(s) listed there as extremely suspect.,, But ‘coincidentally’ other Theists, who have much more patience and care than I do with dogmatic atheists and their consistently deceptive tactics, have recently taken the time to go through the video in question and dissect it.

    Brain split between atheism and theism
    Published: 15 June 2013 (GMT+10)
    http://creation.com/atheism-theism-brain-split

  39. 39
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Today on the Michael Medved Show, Jay Richards Will Discuss Eric Hedin, Guillermo Gonzalez Academic Persecution Cases – See more at:
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....eKlcz.dpuf

  40. 40
    Joe says:

    keiths:

    Software can’t run without hardware. Do you think the soul stops functioning when the body dies?

    No, but the body won’t be communicating with anyone. And software doesn’t cease to exist just because there isn’t any hardware.

    If the soul does the thinking and calls the shots, how can splitting the brain prevent it from continuing to do so?

    The hardware malfunction prevents it. Also who says the sould does all the thinking and calls all of the shots? Reference please.

    Are you really claiming that the soul no longer has control of the body after the corpus callosum is cut?

    Who says the soul has control over the body? The soul gives the body life, but I don’t know about controlling it.

    Do you think the soul is no longer capable of speaking, and the body is talking on “automatic”?

    Do you have any references for the stuff you spew?

  41. 41
    Joe says:

    If the soul is the seat of knowledge, belief, memory, choice, etc., then why does Alzheimer’s disease impair these functions?

    For the SAME reason a hardware malfunction impairs the software. Duh.

  42. 42
    bornagain77 says:

    semi related note:

    The Mind Is Not The Brain – Scientific Evidence – Rupert Sheldrake – video (w/Referenced Notes)
    https://vimeo.com/33479544

    Rupert Sheldrake talks of a internet site that he has set up especially for skeptics/atheists so they can do the experiments online for themselves to see if these simple tests for the effect of ‘mind’ really do hold up to scrutiny:

    Here is the online test site:

    Online Tests
    – Rupert Sheldrake invites you to participate in his ongoing research. No previous experience is necessary, and the online tests can be done immediately. Most of these experiments are suitable for use in schools and colleges, and some make an excellent basis for student projects.
    http://www.sheldrake.org/Onlin.....index.html

    Here is an interesting video which was loaded last year:

    Rupert Sheldrake Lecture: The Science Delusion – video
    description: Temenos Academy 6th February 2012 at the Lincoln Centre Dispelling the Ten Dogmas of Materialism and Freeing the Spirit of Enquiry
    http://vimeo.com/37792854

  43. 43
    keiths says:

    keiths:

    What do you think about the patient whose right hemisphere believes in God and whose left hemisphere is an atheist?

    Eugen:

    That’s easy, the right hemisphere is correct! 🙂

    Why am I not surprised at your choice? 🙂

    Like Bornagain said, the patient as a person is intact.

    An intact person isn’t simultaneously a theist and an atheist. We are talking about a divided person — one half believes one thing and the other half believes the opposite.

    Anyway, if split brain patient’s name was John Smith and we ask him: “John, do you feel as one person?” I think he would answer “Yes.”.

    Sure, because the left hemisphere is the one that answers. It controls speech.

    The left hemisphere feels like a single person, and so does the right. Yet each hemisphere can think, believe, desire and choose things that the other hemisphere does not.

    Split-brain patients will say things like “My left arm has a mind of it’s own.” When they say that, it’s the left hemisphere talking. And they’re right — their left arm really does have a mind of its own — the right hemisphere!

    Recall these examples from my post at TSZ:

    One patient was seen to pick up a cigarette with her right hand and place it in her mouth. Her left hand plucked it out and threw it away before the right hand could light it.

    In another case, a man attacked his wife with one arm while defending her with the other.

    How can you reconcile these observations with the idea of a single immaterial soul? It just doesn’t make sense.

  44. 44
    bornagain77 says:

    Keiths, the following thoughtful article on your video,,,

    Brain split between atheism and theism
    Published: 15 June 2013 (GMT+10)
    http://creation.com/atheism-theism-brain-split

    ,,,clearly exposes the fact that you are trying to force the evidence into your a priori conclusion. You have no warrant for concluding as you are concluding save for your philosophical bias you have beforehand. i.e. you are assuming your conclusion into the evidence and are not ‘proving’ your conclusion from the evidence. You really need to get away from so called Darwinian science so that you may see how to practice science faithfully instead of trying to force the evidence to fit your philosophy!

  45. 45
    Joe says:

    How can you reconcile these observations with the idea of a single immaterial soul?

    Malfunctioning hardware.

    I have seen people with an intact brain pick up a cigarette with their left hand and place it in there mouth. Their right hand plucked it out and threw it away before the left hand could light it. Then they started cursing.

    I have seen women accept a drink with their left hand and throw it in someone’s face with their right.

    I have seen people make turns without using their turn signals. It’s as if they don’t know what they are doing and this exactly what we would expect if their brain hemispheres couldn’t communicate.

    And believe it or not there are people who really believe there is positive evidence for unguided evolution. Nothing gets through to either hemisphere for those wretched few.

  46. 46
    Eugen says:

    keiths

    If patient with split brain operation can be aware of the issue that “his left arm has mind of its own” that would suggest the person’s mind is still unified and can recognize the problem. Probably he’s even thinking it’s strange. Again, sorry I didn’t familiarize myself with the topic but I also think the patient can overcome strange new situation through training. Specialized training will likely enable patient to establish control over the contrasting “hemispheres gone wild”.

    It appears that brain’s two hemispheres specialize in different domains and operate by providing us with contrasting data processing results. All of us here are probably aware of hundreds of contrasting thoughts popping in our minds daily. We filter out most of them – for example “I should buy Lawrence Krauss’s book”; examine some of them – for ex. “That lady looks fantastic!” and act only on few of them – for ex. “It’s a hot day, have another beer” 🙂

  47. 47
    keiths says:

    Joe,

    Your answer doesn’t make sense.

    When the woman’s right hand picks up the cigarette and puts it in her mouth, and her left hand plucks it out before her right hand can light it, what is her soul trying to do?

    Does her soul want to smoke or not?

    When the man attacks his wife with one arm and defends her with the other, what does his soul want? To attack her, or to defend her?

    “Malfunctioning hardware” is a non-answer.

  48. 48
    keiths says:

    bornagain,

    Why don’t you try answering the questions I just asked Joe?

    Since your position is so strong, and mine so weak, it should be a walk in the park for you.

    Show the world why no reasonable person should doubt the existence of the immaterial soul.

    Here are the questions again:

    When the woman’s right hand picks up the cigarette and puts it in her mouth, and her left hand plucks it out before her right hand can light it, what is her soul trying to do?

    Does her soul want to smoke or not?

    When the man attacks his wife with one arm and defends her with the other, what does his soul want? To attack her, or to defend her?

  49. 49
    Joe says:

    When the woman’s right hand picks up the cigarette and puts it in her mouth, and her left hand plucks it out before her right hand can light it, what is her soul trying to do?

    Keep her from smoking. A malfunction is what caused her to smoke in the first place

    “Malfunctioning hardware” is a non-answer.

    Perhaps to you. But then again any answer that refutes your nonsense will be a non-answer to you.

    I have asked you for references and you have not provided any. Methinks you don’t know anything about souls and what they are supposed to do.

  50. 50
    bornagain77 says:

    Keiths, you have been answered and you, because you are dogmatically committed to atheism no matter what the evidence says to the contrary, refuse to accept the answer. I even referenced a article directly addressing your video on its own terms for good measure, apparently to no avail! Joe was right,,

    believe it or not there are people who really believe there is positive evidence for unguided evolution. Nothing gets through to either hemisphere for those wretched few.

    You are wedded to a materialistic answer and are completely blind to any other answer save the one you want to see. If you were practicing science rationally instead of just trying to convince others of your religion you would, as I did, go down the the foundation of reality itself in quantum mechanics and make your case from there, again, as I did! But no keiths, you are not interested in scientifically and rigorously building a case from the ground up, you are only interested in, for whatever severely misguided reason, maintaining your atheism (a worldview which can’t even ground our ability to reason in the first place I might add keiths). But keiths, not that you will really be interested, but perhaps for the sake of Joe, I found this piece of trivia today which, though not conclusive as the evidence from quantum mechanics is in overturning your atheistic position, severely compromises your materialistic worldview as to what you a priori expected:

    Scaling of Brain Metabolism and Blood Flow in Relation to Capillary and Neural Scaling – 2011
    Excerpt: Brain is one of the most energy demanding organs in mammals, and its total metabolic rate scales with brain volume raised to a power of around 5/6. This value is significantly higher than the more common exponent 3/4 (Quarter Power Scaling) relating whole body resting metabolism with body mass and several other physiological variables in animals and plants.,,,
    Moreover, cerebral metabolic, hemodynamic, and microvascular variables scale with allometric exponents that are simple multiples of 1/6, rather than 1/4, which suggests that brain metabolism is more similar to the metabolism of aerobic than resting body. Relation of these findings to brain functional imaging studies involving the link between cerebral metabolism and blood flow is also discussed.,,
    General Discussion Excerpt:
    ,,It should be underlined that both CBF and CMR scale with brain volume with the exponent about 1/4 which is significantly different from the exponent 1/4 relating whole body resting specific metabolism with body volume [1], [2], [3]. Instead, the cerebral exponent 1/6 is closer to an exponent,, characterizing maximal body specific metabolic rate and specific cardiac output in strenuous exercise [43], [44]. In this sense, the brain metabolism and its hemodynamics resemble more the metabolism and circulation of exercised muscles than other resting organs, which is in line with the empirical evidence that brain is an energy expensive organ [10], [17], [18]. This may also suggest that there exists a common plan for the design of microcirculatory system in different parts of the mammalian body that uses the same optimization principles [45].,,
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....MC3203885/

    The preceding experiments are very unexpected to materialists since materialists hold that ‘mind’ is merely a ’emergent property’ of the physical processes of a material brain. But why should ‘thought’ which is presupposed to be result of, and subservient to, the material processes of the brain constrain the material brain to operate at such a constant and optimal metabolic rate whereas the rest of body fluctuates in its metabolic activity? The most parsimonious explanation for such a optimal constraint on the brain’s metabolic activity is that the material brain was designed, first and foremost, to house the mind and give the mind the most favorable metabolic environment possible at all times.

  51. 51
    bornagain77 says:

    supplemental notes on the brain:

    Human brain has more switches than all computers on Earth – November 2010
    Excerpt: They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study: …One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor–with both memory-storage and information-processing elements–than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-2708.....2-247.html

    Does Thinking Really Hard Burn More Calories? – By Ferris Jabr – July 2012
    Excerpt: Although the average adult human brain weighs about 1.4 kilograms, only 2 percent of total body weight, it demands 20 percent of our resting metabolic rate (RMR)—the total amount of energy our bodies expend in one very lazy day of no activity.,,,
    —Resting metabolic rate: 1300 kilocalories, or kcal, the kind used in nutrition
    —1,300 kcal over 24 hours = 54.16 kcal per hour = 15.04 gram calories per second
    —15.04 gram calories/sec = 62.93 joules/sec = about 63 watts
    —20 percent of 63 watts = 12.6 watts
    So a typical adult human brain runs on around 12 watts—a fifth of the power required by a standard 60 watt lightbulb. Compared with most other organs, the brain is greedy; pitted against man-made electronics, it is astoundingly efficient.
    http://www.scientificamerican......d-calories

    Appraising the brain’s energy budget:
    Excerpt: In the average adult human, the brain represents about 2% of the body weight. Remarkably, despite its relatively small size, the brain accounts for about 20% of the oxygen and, hence, calories consumed by the body. This high rate of metabolism is remarkably constant despite widely varying mental and motoric activity. The metabolic activity of the brain is remarkably constant over time.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/99/16/10237.full

    Alan Turing and Kurt Godel – Incompleteness Theorem and Human Intuition – video (notes in video description)
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/8516356/

    Are Humans merely Turing Machines?
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cvQeiN7DqBC0Z3PG6wo5N5qbsGGI3YliVBKwf7yJ_RU/edit

    Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test – Douglas G. Robertson – 1999
    Excerpt: Chaitin’s Algorithmic Information Theory shows that information is conserved under formal mathematical operations and, equivalently, under computer operations. This conservation law puts a new perspective on many familiar problems related to artificial intelligence. For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomenon: the creation of new information.
    “… no operation performed by a computer can create new information.”
    http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

  52. 52
    keiths says:

    bornagain,

    The onlookers aren’t stupid. They know you haven’t answered my questions, and they have a pretty good idea why.

  53. 53
    Joe says:

    Well keiths, onlookers have seen that I have answered your tripe. And they know why you just ignore it or post more tripe to try to refute it.

  54. 54
    keiths says:

    Anyone out there willing to defend the idea that each of us has an immaterial mind or soul that constitutes our true self, and that the body, including the brain, is merely a vehicle “inhabited” and controlled by the mind or soul?

  55. 55
    Joe says:

    Anyone else, you mean. As far as I cann see it has been defended.

  56. 56
    keiths says:

    Anyone else, you mean.

    No, I mean anyone.

  57. 57
    Joe says:

    No, obviously you mean “anyone else”. And you still have not referenced your claims.

  58. 58
    bornagain77 says:

    Joe, of related interest to a ‘hardware malfunction’ feeding false impressions to the mind, it is interesting to note how this ties into Decartes’ infamous ‘demon argument’. Almost everyone knows Decartes’ truism

    “I think therefore I am!”

    How Decartes arrived at this popular truism is fairly interesting in that he imagined a Demon with almost unfathomable powers of deception, and his conclusion from his ‘demon argument’ was as follows,,

    “Descartes remarks that he can continue to doubt whether he has a body; after all, he only believes he has a body as a result of his perceptual experiences, and so the demon could be deceiving him about this. But he cannot doubt that he has a mind, i.e. that he thinks. So he knows he exists even though he doesn’t know whether or not he has a body.”
    http://cw.routledge.com/textbo.....ualism.pdf

    How Decartes old Demon argument ties into keiths’ split-brain anomaly, is that in a certain sense it seems that the ‘I’ of self, the mind, is literally living in Decartes old demon haunted world. In that the ‘I am’ of mind stays singular,

    one expert comments that in such (split-brain) cases, “speech, verbal intelligence, calculation, motor coordination, verbal reasoning and recall, personality and temperament are all preserved to a surprising degree in the absence of hemispheric interconnection.”

    ,,but the ‘I am’ is forced to deal with conflicting perceptions about reality.,, As Tim Bayne of the University of Oxford has put it in his book ‘The Unity of Consciousness’

    “The received view within psychology and philosophy is that the split?brain (commissurotomy) procedure leads to a breakdown in the unity of consciousness. Disunity models of the split?brain can be divided into two classes: two?streams models, according to which patients have two streams of consciousness, and partial unity models, according to which patients have a merely partially unified consciousness. Both models are motivated by the cognitive and behavioural disunities that patients exhibit in certain laboratory conditions, but they struggle to account for the cognitive and behavioural unity that patients demonstrate in everyday life. Preferable to disunity models is a full unity ‘switch’ model, according to which consciousness in the split?brain rapidly switches between hemispheres. It is argued that only the switch model can account for both the behavioural disunities that split?brain patients exhibit under experimental conditions and the behavioural unities that they exhibit outside of such contexts.”

    Note this section in particular: “the cognitive and behavioural unity that patients demonstrate in everyday life.” In short, I am suggesting that the patient referred to in this video, though they may exhibit some bizarre things, like the left hand sometimes doing things that the right hand wants to reverse and so on, and expressing two views of God, would not likely themselves support the idea that there are two separate persons, nor would observations support that when it comes to everyday life. And Bayne seems to have concluded that such observations as there in split-brain patients can be better accounted for via an ‘alternation’ between the two centres of consciousness.
    http://creation.com/atheism-theism-brain-split
    http://www.oxfordscholarship.c.....0199215386

    Thus while certainly interesting, keiths materialistic hypothesis of ‘one brain/two minds’ is lacking in its explanatory power for base unity of ‘self’ that is observed. Moreover and ironically, it seems that in a larger sense that these split brain cases are offering a certain amount of empirical proof for Decartes old ‘Demon argument’ for mind, in which, as was stated in the first reference I listed, ‘the demon could be deceiving him about this. But he cannot doubt that he has a mind’.

    Moreover Joe, it seems that keiths doesn’t even begin to appreciate just how deeply the divide between objective and subjective is. Perhaps a bit of Nagel can cure his lack of comprehension as to how deep the problem actually is:

    What is it like to be a bat? – Thomas Nagel
    http://instruct.westvalley.edu....._nice.html

    “I have argued patiently against the prevailing form of naturalism, a reductive materialism that purports to capture life and mind through its neo-Darwinian extension.” “…, I find this view antecedently unbelievable—a heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense”.
    Thomas Nagel – “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False” – pg.128

    It is also interesting to note that the strict demarcation between objective and subjective extends all the way down into quantum mechanics:

    How observation (consciousness) is inextricably bound to measurement in quantum mechanics:
    Quote: “We wish to measure a temperature. If we want, we can pursue this process numerically until we have the temperature of the environment of the mercury container of the thermometer, and then say: this temperature is measured by the thermometer. But we can carry the calculation further, and from the properties of the mercury, which can be explained in kinetic and molecular terms, we can calculate its heating, expansion, and the resultant length of the mercury column, and then say: this length is seen by the observer.
    Going still further, and taking the light source into consideration, we could find out the reflection of the light quanta on the opaque mercury column, and the path of the remaining light quanta into the eye of the observer, their refraction in the eye lens, and the formation of an image on the retina, and then we would say: this image is registered by the retina of the observer.
    And were our physiological knowledge more precise than it is today, we could go still further, tracing the chemical reactions which produce the impression of this image on the retina, in the optic nerve tract and in the brain, and then in the end say: these chemical changes of his brain cells are perceived by the observer. But in any case, no matter how far we calculate — to the mercury vessel, to the scale of the thermometer, to the retina, or into the brain, at some time we must say: and this is perceived by the observer. That is, we must always divide the world into two parts, the one being the observed system, the other the observer. In the former, we can follow up all physical processes (in principle at least) arbitrarily precisely. In the latter, this is meaningless. The boundary between the two is arbitrary to a very large extent. In particular we saw in the four different possibilities in the example above, that the observer in this sense needs not to become identified with the body of the actual observer: In one instance in the above example, we included even the thermometer in it, while in another instance, even the eyes and optic nerve tract were not included. That this boundary can be pushed arbitrarily deeply into the interior of the body of the actual observer is the content of the principle of the psycho-physical parallelism — but this does not change the fact that in each method of description the boundary must be put somewhere, if the method is not to proceed vacuously,,,”
    John von Neumann – 1903-1957 – The Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, pp.418-21 – 1955
    http://www.informationphilosop.....s/neumann/

    In fact one can chase the demarcation between subjective and objective, all the way down to a single bit of information and conscious observation of that single bit:

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.”
    Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum teleportation:

    Zeilinger’s principle
    Zeilinger’s principle states that any elementary system carries just one bit of information. This principle was put forward by Austrian physicist Anton Zeilinger in 1999 and subsequently developed by him to derive several aspects of quantum mechanics. Some have reasoned that this principle, in certain ways, links thermodynamics with information theory. [1]

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

    Further thoughts from Johnny Raatz

    Introspective Argument
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....63k#t=208s

    Quote:

    “Descartes said ‘I think, therefore I am.’ My bet is that God replied, ‘I am, therefore think.'”
    Art Battson – Access Research Group

    Verse and Music:

    Exodus 3:14
    God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

    Evanescence – My Heart Is Broken
    http://www.vevo.com/watch/evan.....WV41100052

  59. 59
    Joe says:

    My PoV of the soul could be totally wrong but I never knew of the soul to be our controller and over-seer and communicator of all we do.

    I always thought of the soul as more of a life-force that carries our essence with it when the body dies.

  60. 60
    Joe says:

    Our essence being forged by our lives….

  61. 61
    keiths says:

    Joe,

    Most Christians see the soul as Richard Swinburne does:

    Souls are immaterial subjects of mental properties. They have sensations and thoughts, desires and beliefs, and perform intentional actions. Souls are essential parts of human beings…

    It’s easy to see how the split-brain studies threaten this concept of the soul.

  62. 62
    Joe says:

    keiths,

    I need more than you say-so and I do not see how the split-brain study has anything to do with it.

  63. 63
    Joe says:

    So the best keiths can claim is that the split brain experiment calls into question one very narrow view of what a soul is and what it does.

  64. 64
    bornagain77 says:

    Joe, it seems to me that his definition of the soul is one that practically no one adheres to in a strict sense, in that his notion seems to hold that the body has no input whatsoever as to what the soul perceives and can do whilst in the body.

  65. 65
    keiths says:

    Joe,

    So the best keiths can claim is that the split brain experiment calls into question one very narrow view of what a soul is and what it does.

    No. The split-brain observations threaten:

    a) any view of the soul as an immaterial entity that is the seat of knowledge;

    b) any view of the soul as an IE that is the seat of beliefs;

    c) any view of the soul as an IE that is the seat of the will;

    d) any view of the soul as an IE that makes a person’s choices;

    e) any view of the soul as an IE that experiences whatever the person is experiencing;

    f) any view of the soul as an IE that can communicate, using our bodies to speak, write, etc.;

    g) any view of the soul as an IE that is morally responsible for a person’s actions;

    …and so on.

    How many theists at UD would not agree with at least one of the views laid out above?

    The soul, as most people (and most Christians) conceive of it, is in big trouble.

  66. 66
    keiths says:

    bornagain,

    Joe, it seems to me that his definition of the soul is one that practically no one adheres to in a strict sense, in that his notion seems to hold that the body has no input whatsoever as to what the soul perceives and can do whilst in the body.

    Not true. He includes sensations:

    Souls are immaterial subjects of mental properties. They have sensations and thoughts, desires and beliefs, and perform intentional actions. Souls are essential parts of human beings…

  67. 67
    Joe says:

    keiths:

    No. The split-brain observations threaten:

    a) any view of the soul as an immaterial entity that is the seat of knowledge;

    Wrong. Again the hardware issue.

    b) any view of the soul as an IE that is the seat of beliefs;

    c) any view of the soul as an IE that is the seat of the will;

    d) any view of the soul as an IE that makes a person’s choices;

    LoL! You just make stuff up.

    Where did you learn about souls and what Christians believe?

    e) any view of the soul as an IE that experiences whatever the person is experiencing;

    The test doesn’t show that.

    f) any view of the soul as an IE that can communicate, using our bodies to speak, write, etc.;

    If the body is able- again the hardware issue.

    g) any view of the soul as an IE that is morally responsible for a person’s actions;

    No one I know thinks that. I was raised a Christian, went to Christian schools, and took classes about this stuff.

    We are not governed by our souls. It gives us life and basically records our actions, and perhaps even our thoughts. When we die it is examined and sorted. It is our essence. Oh it may also contain the basic programming for being a human. From what the Muslim clerics told me, that includes the program that it is a Muslim, born onto the one True God.

    Just sayin’.

  68. 68
    Joe says:

    The soul, as most people (and most Christians) conceive of it, is in big trouble.

    Nope, just the soul as you conceive of it. You and perhaps some other atheists on an agenda…

  69. 69
    keiths says:

    Joe,

    I used to be a Christian, I know a lot of Christians, I’ve discussed this with many Christians, and I’ve read a huge amount about Christianity.

    The views I laid out are in the Christian mainstream.

    For example, the soul’s moral responsibility is very important to Christians who believe that the soul is rewarded or punished after death.

    If the soul isn’t responsible, why would a just God punish it?

  70. 70
    Joe says:

    Strange that you cannot reference your claims.

    The soul is punished for the very reason I stated.

  71. 71
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, I truly doubt you ever truly were a Christian for I hold that once you have had a personal experience of Christ, however minor or great, there is no undoing such an experience for a person having such an experience, as this following women did,,

    Have You Experienced Jesus – Episode 8 – video
    Excerpt: Kay Sorenson a former Las Vegas Singer at the age of 46 had an amazing born again experience
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNcXkMxQjDU&feature=player_detailpage#t=400s

    ,, has their heart changed from the inside out not the other way around. You seem to have merely assented to a personal opinion of Jesus and then later, with no root within yourself (parable of the sower), changed your mind when circumstances became contrary, and not to have personally experienced Him or His word (as the parable of the sower holds) and to have developed a meaningful relationship with Him!

    What we need is a living encounter with God! – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnlTIODfbhY

    Ask yourself keiths have you truly had what you can call a ‘living encounter’ with God where you knew that you knew that God had done something real in your life?

    As to your strawman version of the soul keiths, I’ve been a Christian for most of my adult life, gone to many different types of Churches from strict Catholics to dancing Pentecostals, and I have never heard such a strict definition for the soul as to exclude any negative feedback for the body whatsoever. In fact, in many places in scripture it mentions a constant battling against the desires of the flesh,,, for instance this scripture from St. Paul comes to mind:

    Romans 7 15-25
    I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
    So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
    So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

    Now I certainly don’t see how you can square that with your strawman definition of the soul keiths!,,,

    but more importantly keiths, you have blatantly ignored results of the science I presented for you,,,

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-459110

    ,, as to the quantum foundation of reality itself. Results that establish consciousness as the base of reality by ’80 orders of magnitude’ no less. Results that literally blow any materialistic/atheistic conception of reality out of the water. Why do you ignore staggering results like these from what our best, most unambiguous, science can tell us about the nature of reality just to focus on your strawman version of a soul? Scientifically it is inexcusable for you to ignore such a staggering result and it clearly reveals that you could really care less about pursuing the truth but are instead a dogmatist who is only concerned with pushing your atheism!

    verse:

    Romans 1:20
    For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

    Quotes:

    “No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
    (Max Planck, father of Quantum Mechanics, as cited in de Purucker, Gottfried. 1940. The Esoteric Tradition. California: Theosophical University Press, ch. 13).

    Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.
    And yet, have you ever before read a sentence having meaning similar to that of my preceding sentence? Likely you have not, and the reason you have not is, in my opinion, that physicists are in a state of denial…
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-designer/

    The Easter Question – Eben Alexander, M.D. Harvard Neurosurgeon – March 2013
    Excerpt: More than ever since my near death experience, I consider myself a Christian -,,,
    Now, I can tell you that if someone had asked me, in the days before my NDE, what I thought of this (Easter) story, I would have said that it was lovely. But it remained just that — a story. To say that the physical body of a man who had been brutally tortured and killed could simply get up and return to the world a few days later is to contradict every fact we know about the universe. It wasn’t simply an unscientific idea. It was a downright anti-scientific one.
    But it is an idea that I now believe. Not in a lip-service way. Not in a dress-up-it’s-Easter kind of way. I believe it with all my heart, and all my soul.,,
    We are, really and truly, made in God’s image. But most of the time we are sadly unaware of this fact. We are unconscious both of our intimate kinship with God, and of His constant presence with us. On the level of our everyday consciousness, this is a world of separation — one where people and objects move about, occasionally interacting with each other, but where essentially we are always alone.
    But this cold dead world of separate objects is an illusion. It’s not the world we actually live in.,,,
    ,,He (God) is right here with each of us right now, seeing what we see, suffering what we suffer… and hoping desperately that we will keep our hope and faith in Him. Because that hope and faith will be triumphant.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....79741.html

    Verse, music and bonus:

    Matthew 13: %-6
    Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

    Reckless – Jeremy Camp
    http://myktis.com/songs/reckless/

    Here’s The Craziest ‘Reckless’ Video You’ll Watch All Day
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDkrSD8fOBo#at=54

  72. 72
    keiths says:

    Joe,

    Strange that you cannot reference your claims.

    Follow my links, Joe, and do some Googling. The information is out there even if you squeeze your eyes shut and pretend that it isn’t.

    The soul is punished for the very reason I stated.

    What “reason you stated”?

  73. 73
    keiths says:

    bornagain,

    keiths, I truly doubt you ever truly were a Christian…

    You’re wrong about that. I took it very seriously and even considered (at my pastor’s urging) whether I was called to the ministry.

    As to your strawman version of the soul keiths, I’ve been a Christian for most of my adult life, gone to many different types of Churches from strict Catholics to dancing Pentecostals, and I have never heard such a strict definition for the soul as to exclude any negative feedback for the body whatsoever. In fact, in many places in scripture it mentions a constant battling against the desires of the flesh,,,

    Giving in to the “desires of the flesh” is considered sinful, bornagain. The soul is held responsible for sins.

    When God is judging you, do you plan to say “Oh, I’m not responsible for that. My body (or brain) made me do it”?

    Not a very Christian notion.

  74. 74
    Joe says:

    keiths,

    I lived the life, went to their schools and were taught their ways. If christians do believe in the soul the way you say it is a silent minority. Not even wikipedia agrees with you.

    So all I can is say that you are full of it.

    The reason I stated:

    We are not governed by our souls. It gives us life and basically records our actions, and perhaps even our thoughts. When we die it is examined and sorted. It is our essence. Oh it may also contain the basic programming for being a human. From what the Muslim clerics told me, that includes the program that it is a Muslim, born onto the one True God.

    So we are judged by our actions, which are recorded by our soul.

  75. 75
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, do you even know of the concept of propitiation?

    G.O.S.P.E.L. – (the grace of propitiation) poetry slam – video
    https://vimeo.com/20960385

    Top Ten Reasons We Know the New Testament is True – Frank Turek – video – November 2011
    (41:00 minute mark – Despite what is commonly believed, of someone being ‘good enough’ to go to heaven, in reality both Mother Teresa and Hitler fall short of the moral perfection required to meet the perfection of God’s objective moral code)
    http://saddleback.com/mc/m/5e22f/

  76. 76
    keiths says:

    bornagain,

    keiths, do you even know of the concept of propitiation?

    Of course, but it doesn’t help your case.

    Joe,

    So you believe that the soul is judged for things it didn’t do?

    Most Christians would disagree. They would say the soul is morally responsible.

  77. 77
    keiths says:

    UDers, are there any among you who can do a better job than Joe and BA77 at defending the idea of an immaterial soul?

  78. 78
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, you are delusional if you think you have in any way, shape, or form, made a compelling case for the non-existence of the soul. What you have made a very compelling case for is that you have no clue as to what constitutes scientific proof, what a soul truly is, what Christianity truly is, and perhaps most convincingly, that you have no clue as to how to be objective with scientific evidence!

  79. 79
    Joe says:

    LoL! keiths can’t support his tripe.

    So you believe that the soul is judged for things it didn’t do?

    A soul is our essence. It is judged on what we have done. Our body is dead, keiths. It cannot be judged.

    What is wrong with you?

  80. 80
    Joe says:

    So we are judged by our actions, which are recorded by our soul.

    So you believe that the soul is judged for things it didn’t do?

    No, we are judged by our actions, which are recorded by our soul.

  81. 81
    keiths says:

    Joe,

    I want you to concentrate.

    You say:

    We are not governed by our souls.

    And:

    A soul is our essence. It is judged on what we have done.

    Are you still concentrating?

    According to you, the soul is judged “on what we have done”, despite the fact that we “are not governed by our souls”.

    Most Christians would disagree, vehemently. They think that the soul is judged because it is morally responsible for what we do.

  82. 82
    Joe says:

    According to you, the soul is judged “on what we have done”, despite the fact that we “are not governed by our souls”.

    Do you not understand all that went with what I said? The soul IS OUR ESSENCE. That essence is what is judged- what we have done is what is judged.

    And you have no idea what christians would say. I know most would agree with me.

  83. 83
    Joe says:

    If someone is judged by the work they do, and that work is recorded in a notebook, according to you the notebook is being judged, not the worker.

  84. 84
    keiths says:

    Joe,

    Well, I would love for any Christians who are reading this to tell us what they think about the soul, especially if they can improve upon your feeble defense of it.

  85. 85
    Joe says:

    LoL! I didn’t defend the soul, moron. I just refuted your feeble attempt at showing it didn’t exist.

  86. 86
    keiths says:

    Joe,

    If someone is judged by the work they do, and that work is recorded in a notebook, according to you the notebook is being judged, not the worker.

    Most Christians believe that the soul is the “worker”, morally responsible for our actions and beliefs. And since the soul is responsible, it is punished or rewarded accordingly.

    You, on the other hand, say that the soul “basically records our actions”. In other words, you say it is the notebook.

    Why do you think a notebook should be rewarded or punished for what someone writes in it?

  87. 87
    Querius says:

    Keith,

    The biblical word for soul approximates our word for “personality.”

    The Greek words in the B’rit Chadasha for spirit, soul, and body are pneuma, psuche, and soma, respectively. In the Hebrew Tanakh the same three words are ruach, nephesh and geshem. For example

    “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    or

    “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

    So yes, I also believe your personality, split or not, is immaterial: you can’t measure its volume, you can’t weigh it, or take its temperature. In other words, if you’re a materialist, you won’t have a problem accepting that you have a complete lack of personality.

    That one can isolate areas and structures in the brain that correspond (loosely as it turns out) with certain aspects of personality is not much different than discovering that your legs facilitate locomotion under the control of your will (which you also lack if you’re a behaviorist), and disconnecting the nerves to one your legs results in distinctly odd behavior. 😉

    Whether you believe in the immaterial is your choice, and entirely a matter of what you’re willing or unwilling to believe for whatever reason.

  88. 88
    keiths says:

    Hi Querius,

    Thank you for stepping up to the plate.

    So yes, I also believe your personality, split or not, is immaterial: you can’t measure its volume, you can’t weigh it, or take its temperature.

    That’s a faulty criterion. You can’t take the temperature of wetness, or weigh it, or measure its volume, but it’s still a material phenomenon.

    Also, don’t forget that most people who believe in the soul also believe that it can function independently of the body — after the person dies, for example.

    That one can isolate areas and structures in the brain that correspond (loosely as it turns out) with certain aspects of personality is not much different than discovering that your legs facilitate locomotion under the control of your will…

    No, because neuroscience shows that the will itself is a function of the brain, and the split-brain studies confirm this. After the operation, each hemisphere possesses a separate, distinct will. Recall my examples:

    One patient was seen to pick up a cigarette with her right hand and place it in her mouth. Her left hand plucked it out and threw it away before the right hand could light it.

    In another case, a man attacked his wife with one arm while defending her with the other.

    These examples are not consistent with a single, unified, immaterial will.

  89. 89
    keiths says:

    And if you don’t like the word ‘materialism’, then substitute ‘naturalism’ or ‘physicalism’.

    The important point is whether there is an immaterial soul that can function independently of the brain.

  90. 90
    keiths says:

    Hi Eugen,

    I apologize for the late response. I somehow overlooked your comment last night.

    If patient with split brain operation can be aware of the issue that “his left arm has mind of its own” that would suggest the person’s mind is still unified and can recognize the problem.

    Don’t forget that only the left hemisphere can speak. So when the patient says his left arm “has a mind of its own”, it is the left hemisphere that is making that statement.

    The left hemisphere controls the right arm, and the right hemisphere controls the left. So each arm literally “has a mind of its own”.

    The left hemisphere can control what the right arm does, but it can’t control the left arm. Thus it says that the left arm “has a mind of its own.”

    The right hemisphere can control what the left arm does, but it can’t control the right arm. Thus it thinks that the right arm “has a mind of its own”, but it can’t say so, because it can’t speak.

    That’s why the experimenters don’t ask for verbal responses. Instead, they ask each hemisphere to respond by pointing.

    The patient’s mind is not unified. Each hemisphere has its own knowledge, beliefs, desires, and will.

    If you haven’t watched the videos, please do. They’re absolutely fascinating:

    Video 1
    Video 2
    Video 3

    It’s remarkable and eerie, isn’t it? Two separate minds in the same skull.

    Specialized training will likely enable patient to establish control over the contrasting “hemispheres gone wild”.

    The hemispheres learn to cooperate. Imagine that you and your best friend are placed into the same body. You have control over the left arm and he or she has control over the right. The two of you will quickly learn how to coordinate your actions, as long as you are working toward the same goal.

    Problems will arise only if your wills clash — for example if you want to wear a certain shirt, and start buttoning it up with the left hand, but your friend doesn’t like it and starts undoing the buttons with the right hand. (That actually happens to some patients.)

    All of us here are probably aware of hundreds of contrasting thoughts popping in our minds daily. We filter out most of them – for example “I should buy Lawrence Krauss’s book”; examine some of them – for ex. “That lady looks fantastic!” and act only on few of them – for ex. “It’s a hot day, have another beer” 🙂

    Yes, but what happens with split brain patients is different. It’s not just that they filter out some thoughts and pay attention to others. It’s that the left brain knows things that the right brain doesn’t know.

    The left brain believes things that the right brain doesn’t believe — recall the patient whose left brain was an atheist while the right brain was a believer.

    The left brain wants things that the right brain doesn’t — recall the woman whose left brain wanted to smoke, but whose right brain stopped her from lighting the cigarette.

    Again, I urge you to watch the videos. The experimenters have developed a technique by which they can communicate with each hemisphere separately. It’s very clever, and the results are mind-blowing.

    The conclusion is inescapable: the immaterial soul does not exist.

  91. 91
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths you claim that:

    because neuroscience shows that the will itself is a function of the brain, and the split-brain studies confirm this.

    Hmmm keiths, so if you conclusion for no free will is robust as you hold, and is not an anomaly of ‘hardware malfunction’, as Joe and I hold, then it should explain all the data right? Even down to the foundation of reality right?,,, But your position is not what we find when we look at the foundation of reality itself keiths!:

    In the following experiment, the claim that past material states determine future conscious choices (determinism) is falsified by the fact that present conscious (free will) choices effect past material states:

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    In other words, if my conscious (free will) choices really are just merely the result of whatever state the material particles in my brain happened to be in in the past (deterministic) then how in blue blazes are my present choices instantaneously effecting the state of material particles into the past?,,,

    Perhaps keiths you may just shrug your shoulders and claim it can be explained as a exotic quirk of quantum mechanics, but you would be wrong to think that it was merely a quirk keiths. Free will conscious observation is literally built into our best description of reality (Quantum Mechanics) as a starting assumption!

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free will assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    An experimental test of all theories with predictive power beyond quantum theory – May 2011
    Excerpt: Hence, we can immediately refute any already considered or yet-to-be-proposed alternative model with more predictive power than this. (Quantum Theory)
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1105.0133.pdf

    Now this is completely unheard of in science as far as I know keiths. i.e. That a mathematical description of reality would advance to the point that one can actually perform a experiment showing that your current theory will not ever be exceeded in predictive power by another future theory is simply unprecedented in science! I know of no other mathematical theory in science that has ever excelled to such a point as a accurate description of reality! Moreover, and most importantly as to refuting your deterministic view of reality keiths, it was shown in the paper and experiment that one cannot ever improve the predictive power of quantum mechanics by ever removing free will conscious observation as a starting assumption(s) in Quantum Mechanics! This is simply devastating for your materialistic position keiths. There is simply no within space-time materialistic story that you can appeal to so as to rescue your preferred deterministic view of reality keiths

    Henry Stapp on the Conscious Choice and the Non-Local Quantum Entangled Effects – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJN01s1gOqA

    Needless to say, finding ‘free will conscious observation’ to be ‘built into’ our best description of foundational reality, quantum mechanics, as a starting assumption, is VERY antithetical to the entire materialistic/atheistic philosophy. Now keiths, I know you are smitten with your split-brain anomaly and think it is much more solid than it actually is, but you have, besides this evidence from quantum mechanics, been provided many reasons why your theory is not nearly as robust as you think it is, but this evidence from quantum mechanics for ‘free will’ is devastating to your position and simply completely undermines any solid footing that you thought you had as to rigorously establishing your point conclusively!,,,

    Of note, beside quantum mechanics, ‘Mind’ is certainly not lacking in substantiating evidence in neuroscience as well:

    In The Wonder Of Being Human: Our Brain and Our Mind, Eccles and Robinson discussed the research of three groups of scientists (Robert Porter and Cobie Brinkman, Nils Lassen and Per Roland, and Hans Kornhuber and Luder Deeke), all of whom produced startling and undeniable evidence that a “mental intention” preceded an actual neuronal firing – thereby establishing that the mind is not the same thing as the brain, but is a separate entity altogether.
    http://books.google.com/books?.....8;lpg=PT28

    “As I remarked earlier, this may present an “insuperable” difficulty for some scientists of materialists bent, but the fact remains, and is demonstrated by research, that non-material mind acts on material brain.”
    Sir John Eccles – Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1963 – (as quoted in Cousins, 1985, pp. 61-62,85-86)

    “We regard promissory materialism as superstition without a rational foundation. The more we discover about the brain, the more clearly do we distinguish between the brain events and the mental phenomena, and the more wonderful do both the brain events and the mental phenomena become. Promissory materialism is simply a religious belief held by dogmatic materialists . . . who often confuse their religion with their science.”
    – John C. Eccles, The Wonder of Being Human: Our Brain and Our Mind, 1984 – Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1963

    Materialism of the Gaps – Michael Egnor (Neurosurgeon) – January 29, 2009
    Excerpt: The evidence that some aspects of the mind are immaterial is overwhelming. It’s notable that many of the leading neuroscientists — Sherrington, Penfield, Eccles, Libet — were dualists. Dualism of some sort is the most reasonable scientific framework to apply to the mind-brain problem, because, unlike dogmatic materialism, it just follows the evidence.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....15901.html

    Do Conscious Thoughts Cause Behavior? -Roy F. Baumeister, E. J. Masicampo, and Kathleen D. Vohs – 2010
    Excerpt: The evidence for conscious causation of behavior is profound, extensive, adaptive, multifaceted, and empirically strong.
    http://carlsonschool.umn.edu/assets/165663.pdf

  92. 92
    bornagain77 says:

    i.e. your problem is not to explain why some events in the brain are automatic keiths, your problem is to explain why all events in the brain are not automatic! You simply are not even in the ballpark of conclusive proof as to making a rigorous case for your ‘non-existent soul’ claim keiths! That level of proof, since you are trying to prove the soul does not exist instead of that it does exist, is far harder to achieve than you seem to believe!

  93. 93

    Indeed, the split brain patient is more like these two girls than a single person.

    It’s just that it happens mid-life, rather than at an early embryonic stage.

    So if I were defending dualism, I’d say that faced with a split brain, the mind is obliged to become two minds, because one mind can only control one brain.

    One model is: a Mind is divinely created for each brain-body, and controls it. If a brain splits, either into two hemispheres, or two separate two-hemisphere heads, then the Deity either duplicates the Mind, and allocates the each one brain each, from henceforth, or splits the Mind into two separate Minds, with half a brain each to control.

    Klunky, but not ludicrous.

  94. 94
    Joe says:

    keiths:

    Most Christians believe that the soul is the “worker”,

    No they don’t.

    morally responsible for our actions and beliefs.

    That’s wrong too.

    The problem is keiths is just making shit up and trying to pass it off as fact.

  95. 95
    Joe says:

    Until keiths can provide valid references that support his claims pertaining to the soul, he is just spewing nonsense, as usual.

    And I know that he cannot support his tripe…

  96. 96
    Joe says:

    Brain split between atheism and theism:

    However, we know that in this life, our decision-making, our thoughts, feelings and so on are not independent of the material substrate of the brain—the material brain is intimately involved in such things. If it were not so, then anesthetics would not make us temporarily lose our decision-making processes, for instance, nor would mind/mood altering drugs, both legal and illegal, or intoxicants have any effect on our reasoning capacities, for example.

    In short, God, as creator of the biological world, has chosen to make the brain with its amazingly complex biological machinery to somehow act as the material ‘substrate’ that connects with and interacts with the transcendent aspect of all of us. It is the vehicle through which such processes as decision-making, thinking, reasoning, etc. are carried out. And this is almost certainly true for decision-making concerning salvation issues, as well. It can therefore be deduced from the biblical existence of the soul that our non-material part is capable of interacting with the material part (brain)—and does so intimately during life. How exactly this happens is currently completely unknown, and it may in fact be unknowable. But so are large aspects of consciousness and reasoning and so forth themselves. So it’s not some copout to say that the way in which the ‘soul’ interacts with the material brain is poorly understood—this description applies to consciousness itself, which is actually regarded as one of the great mysteries of modern science, and may also turn out to be unknowable.

    And that is support for my hardware malfunction claim.

    Also included is the following:

    In Christian theology, what is being judged is not the material substrate of the body, but the immaterial, based on actions and beliefs in life.

    What I said (79):

    A soul is our essence. It is judged on what we have done. Our body is dead, keiths. It cannot be judged.

    Looks like Christians agree with me, keiths.

  97. 97
    Joe says:

    Split Brains: No Headache for the Soul Theorist:

    We argue that cases of commissurotomy, wherein the cerebral hemispheres are disconnected via surgical disconnection of all or part of the corpus callosum, fornix, and Massa Intermedia, resulting in strangely bifurcated mental states, do not, contra the assertions of many materialists, constitute a problem for the soul theorist. This only seems to be the case because materialists (i) conceive of the soul as a point-like, spatially located simple, where all the the thoughts of the person must be located and (ii) because the materialist fails to take seriously the notion that the soul is dependent on the brain to subserve its thouhgt.

  98. 98
    Axel says:

    ‘This only seems to be the case because materialists (i) conceive of the soul as a point-like, spatially located simple, where all the the thoughts of the person must be located …’

    O-o-o-o-o-oh…. Time to get esteemed Mung on board. It’s going to be r-e-a-l tricky trying to set those coordinates, even with a specialist sat navigator like him.

    But then, perhaps Mung’s been getting his hand in by looking for nothing for Dawkins. But was nothing a product of chance or was it designed? The questions multiply.

    ‘I see no ships. Only hardships.’ That’s the style: part material, part conceptual!

  99. 99
    keiths says:

    Lizzie,

    So if I were defending dualism, I’d say that faced with a split brain, the mind is obliged to become two minds, because one mind can only control one brain.

    But then

    1) you’d need to explain why a mind/soul can control two eyes, two arms, but not two brains, and

    2) you’d have to get used to the idea that neurosurgeons bring new souls into the world when they do commissurotomies. Obstetricians of an unusual sort.

    It also leads to an interesting moral problem. Suppose you are a neurosurgeon performing a hemispherectomy. Do you remove the corpus callosum first and then the diseased hemisphere, or vice-versa?

    Most neurosurgeons would do whatever was in the patient’s best interest. If removing the corpus callosum first seemed safest, then that is what they would do.

    A pro-lifer, on the other hand, would object. By removing the corpus callosum first, the surgeon would bring a new soul into the world (to control the now-separate hemisphere). Then, by removing the diseased hemisphere, the surgeon would be committing murder.

    If the surgeon instead removed the diseased hemisphere first, then there would be no murder, because a second soul would never have come into existence.

    It gets even weirder. If the surgeon cuts the CC first, and a new soul comes into existence, which hemisphere gets the “old” soul, and which the new? How does God decide? And if the old soul goes into the diseased hemisphere, then by removing that hemisphere the surgeon is killing the very patient who sought his or her help!

    Another question: What if the surgeon only cuts halfway through the corpus callosum? Do we have one soul or two? What about three-quarters of the way through? What about 99%?

    It really is ludicrous. I just don’t see a solution that would satisfy the typical dualist and fit the evidence.

  100. 100
    keiths says:

    By the way, Lizzie, your link (“these two girls”) appears to be broken.

  101. 101

    Ah, sorry. Let me post it again. It’s about Brittany and Abigail Hensel. The original link was to a BBC site – I’ll try again:

    Living a conjoined life

    They have made an amazing success of their lives. This is lovely:

    The identical, conjoined twins from Minnesota, in the United States, have graduated from Bethel University and are setting out on their career as primary school teachers with an emphasis on maths.

    Although they have two teaching licences, there is one practical difference when it comes to the finances.

    “Obviously right away we understand that we are going to get one salary because we’re doing the job of one person,” says Abby.

    “As maybe experience comes in we’d like to negotiate a little bit, considering we have two degrees and because we are able to give two different perspectives or teach in two different ways.”

    “One can be teaching and one can be monitoring and answering questions,” says Brittany. “So in that sense we can do more than one person.”

  102. 102
    Eugen says:

    Keiths

    You missed my reply because my UD comments are delayed for a while, I’m not sure why that happens.

    I finally watched the videos and transcribed the last bit of video 3 where Dr Gazzaniga explains what’s going on in a person’s brain:

    “Mind is made up of constellation of independent and semi-independent agents. These agents, processes can carry on activities outside our consciousness. Even that goes on some final system I think is in a left hemisphere pulls all this info into a final theory to explain independent elements.That theory becomes a theory of our selves and the world.”

    It doesn’t come across from the Dr. himself that the underlying “processes” and “activities” in a split brain patient form different persons. Notice how he says “our consciousness” which I think means our unified one-person consciousness, not some fluid multi-personality consciousness . Also, it seems that the left hemisphere is dominant and has the final say.

  103. 103
    keiths says:

    Joe quotes Carl Wieland of Creation Ministries International:

    However, we know that in this life, our decision-making, our thoughts, feelings and so on are not independent of the material substrate of the brain—the material brain is intimately involved in such things. If it were not so, then anesthetics would not make us temporarily lose our decision-making processes, for instance, nor would mind/mood altering drugs, both legal and illegal, or intoxicants have any effect on our reasoning capacities, for example.

    And:

    In Christian theology, what is being judged is not the material substrate of the body, but the immaterial, based on actions and beliefs in life.

    Yes, that is exactly what most Christians believe. For them, the immaterial soul is the seat of the will. Thus the soul is morally responsible for our choices and actions, not the brain. God therefore judges the soul, not the brain.

    The problem is that this is contradicted by the split-brain observations. Those observations show that there are two wills in one body. If the soul is the seat of the will, then why should splitting the brain split the will? It makes no sense.

    It makes perfect sense under materialism, however. There is no soul. The brain is the seat of the will. When you split the brain, you split the will.

    Materialism makes sense. The soul doesn’t.

  104. 104
    keiths says:

    Joe also quotes the abstract of an unpublished paper by Adam Taylor that is unavailable online:

    We argue that cases of commissurotomy, wherein the cerebral hemispheres are disconnected via surgical disconnection of all or part of the corpus callosum, fornix, and Massa Intermedia, resulting in strangely bifurcated mental states, do not, contra the assertions of many materialists, constitute a problem for the soul theorist. This only seems to be the case because materialists (i) conceive of the soul as a point-like, spatially located simple, where all the the thoughts of the person must be located…

    No. Spatial extent and location have nothing to do with it. As I wrote earlier:

    The split-brain observations threaten:

    a) any view of the soul as an immaterial entity that is the seat of knowledge;

    b) any view of the soul as an IE that is the seat of beliefs;

    c) any view of the soul as an IE that is the seat of the will;

    d) any view of the soul as an IE that makes a person’s choices;

    e) any view of the soul as an IE that experiences whatever the person is experiencing;

    f) any view of the soul as an IE that can communicate, using our bodies to speak, write, etc.;

    g) any view of the soul as an IE that is morally responsible for a person’s actions;

    …and so on.

    How many theists at UD would not agree with at least one of the views laid out above?

    The soul, as most people (and most Christians) conceive of it, is in big trouble.

    Taylor continues:

    …and (ii) because the materialist fails to take seriously the notion that the soul is dependent on the brain to subserve its thouhgt.

    Christians believe that the soul is morally responsible (see the Wieland quote in my previous comment). If morally relevant choices are shaped by the brain, then the soul does not have complete moral responsibility. Why would God punish or reward a soul for things it didn’t do?

    Think of the split-brain patient who attacked his wife with one arm and defended her with the other. Did his soul decide to attack her? Did his soul decide to defend her? Will his soul be judged favorably or unfavorably for its actions?

    None of this makes any sense under dualism.

  105. 105
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, when are you going to offer conclusive proof that the soul does not exist?

  106. 106
    keiths says:

    bornagain,

    Science doesn’t deal in certainty, but given the evidence, there is no reason to believe in the soul as most people and most Christians conceive of it.

    This entire thread (along with the one at TSZ that you are afraid to read) gives the reasons that the soul is inconsistent with observations of split-brain patients.

    I’ve noticed that you have no counterargument. You’re just spamming the thread with quotes and links as usual.

    Can you, personally, defend the soul without relying on other people to make your argument for you? Or do you just believe without understanding why?

    The immaterial soul is a fictitious entity, like the unicorn — a relic of pre-scientific thinking.

  107. 107
    Joe says:

    keiths:

    Yes, that is exactly what most Christians believe.

    Yes, they all believe your opinion of the soul is bogus.

    For them, the immaterial soul is the seat of the will.

    That wasn’t part of anything I quoted.

    Thus the soul is morally responsible for our choices and actions, not the brain.

    keiths, what he said agrees with what I have said. And it refutes your feeble-minded attempt at undermining the soul.

    God therefore judges the soul, not the brain.

    Again, the sould is the essence of the person. Therefor the actions of that person are being judged. Just as quoted.

    But nice choke of a response…

  108. 108
    Joe says:

    keiths:

    Science doesn’t deal in certainty, but given the evidence, there is no reason to believe in the soul as most people and most Christians conceive of it.

    LoL! YOU don’t have any idea how Christians conceive of the soul.

    The immaterial soul is a fictitious entity, like the unicorn — a relic of pre-scientific thinking.

    And if materialism ever gets any positive evidence to support it, you will have an argument. Until then all you have are your feeble-minded attempts, blatant misrepresentations and strawmen, all with a dose of whine…

  109. 109
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, I have provided far more robust evidence as to the existence of the soul, all the way to the foundation of reality itself, than you have against the existence of the soul.,,, Moreover, besides the fact that my evidence is far more robust than yours, you are trying to prove a negative whereas I do not suffer from that impossible burden! I merely have to show compelling evidence for the soul, as I have done, and I do not have the burden, as you do, have to prove that the soul cannot exist under all circumstances. ,, Like I said before the only thing you have compellingly shown is that you have no clue as to what constitutes scientific proof.

  110. 110
    Joe says:

    Well here we are and keiths is still totally refuted….

  111. 111
    wallstreeter43 says:

    It seems to me that either Keith doesnt understand the difference between hardware and software or he is holding onto his atheistic religious beliefs no matter how weak the evidence for them are.

    Keith, I had a friend that was like this. His name was Orion.
    He was a pretty thin guy. No matter what he ate or drank his waistline never got bigger. Im envious of the guy. His Boss at work Iam told him one that he will begin eating uncontrollably and gain so much weight that he would have to keep adjusting his belt. It was if he had to do whatever his boss said and he couldnt control himself.

    and true to what his boss said he gained so much weight that he kept adjusting his belt size.
    This wasnt something I made up, it completely happened.
    That was some kind of Boss he had huh Keith , and also some Kind of JOB too 😉

  112. 112
    wallstreeter43 says:

    Joe and BA, you guys tried, but I said it before and ill say it again. Its discussions like these that totally convince me that Atheism is an emotional worldview and not an intellectual one. A worldview that must be held onto no matter the evidence.

  113. 113
    keiths says:

    wallstreeter43,

    Welcome to the thread.

    It seems to me that either Keith doesnt understand the difference between hardware and software or he is holding onto his atheistic religious beliefs no matter how weak the evidence for them are.

    Wrong on both counts.

    Perhaps you can do what Joe and BA have failed to do: explain how the concept of the immaterial soul (as defined in this thread) can be reconciled with what we observe of split-brain patients.

    Are you up to the challenge?

  114. 114
    Gregory says:

    “Can you, personally, defend the soul without relying on other people to make your argument for you? … The immaterial soul is a fictitious entity, like the unicorn — a relic of pre-scientific thinking.”

    Yes, I can ‘personally’ defend it, keiths. But I don’t get the impression you are ‘person’ enough to understand the defense.

    That there is anything ‘immaterial’ is not a difficult argument to make. It’s not about unicorns or ‘pre-science,’ based on a universal evolutionistic tragedy.

    That there is ‘science’ of soulful existence may be distroubling to ‘keiths.’ But that does not make it untrue. And it doesn’t mean that many others are not open to it, even as they rationally and rightfully reject ‘Intelligent Design Theory.’

    What is most important is that philosophy and theology/worldview are brought openly into the conversation. (This is why IDT’s ‘strictly scientific’ facade is so distasteful.) Yet keiths doesn’t wish to play fair, doesn’t want to afford value to spiritual thought, doesn’t apply thought to consciousness in a way that points to transcendental truths. Such a ‘natural scientist’ or fanatic for ‘naturalism’ is ultimately of little value to humanity, the vast majority of which believes in ‘higher’ meaning.

  115. 115
    keiths says:

    Gregory,

    I’ll extend the same invitation to you (and to everyone reading this) that I just extended to wallstreeter43:

    Perhaps you can do what Joe and BA have failed to do: explain how the concept of the immaterial soul (as defined in this thread) can be reconciled with what we observe of split-brain patients.

    Are you up to the challenge?

  116. 116
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, actually only your strawman version of soul, which you personally set up and knocked down, is relevant to what you hold. No one else has signed onto your strawman version and thus no one else, save you, is persuaded by your self fulfilling successful argument you have made. Congradulations on decieving yourself! 🙂 ,,, But to add a bit of a side note, in this following video on hell, Bill Wiese remarks on how incredibly weak he was, while he was ‘in his spirit’, on having to exert all his concentration and strength just to ‘will’ himself a single breath of air,,,

    Bill Wiese – 23 Minutes In Hell – 2010 video
    http://www.vimeo.com/16641462

    That extremely weak soul certainly does not fit your strawman version of the soul keiths!

  117. 117
    keiths says:

    BA,

    Why don’t you describe for us exactly which aspects of my “strawman version of the soul” you disagree with, and for each of those aspects, what you believe instead?

    Since you disagree with me so vehemently, you must have a very clear idea of what is wrong with my “strawman version”.

  118. 118
    JWTruthInLove says:

    @keiths: The biblical position on the soul is this:

    Whereas most religions teach that man has a soul—some immaterial entity that resides within—the Bible teaches something simpler. Man is “a living soul” formed out of “dust from the ground.” (Genesis 2:7) The Bible never describes this soul as immortal. It says that the soul can be killed or destroyed, totally ceasing to exist. (Psalm 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Ezekiel 18:4, 20) The first soul, Adam, positively died and returned to the dust from which he was created. He returned to nonexistence.

    Meaning, souls are not immaterial and are not distinct from the body.

  119. 119
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, since you never addressed, or refuted, this ball that was put in your court, (I don’t think you even saw the ball pass by to tell you the truth):

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-459110

    I see no need to go further. Like I said before

    ” you are trying to prove a negative whereas I do not suffer from that impossible burden! I merely have to show compelling evidence for the soul, as I have done, and I do not have the burden, as you do, have to prove that the soul cannot exist under all circumstances. ,, Like I said before the only thing you have compellingly shown is that you have no clue as to what constitutes scientific proof.”

  120. 120
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: before I head off to the local crisis of the day, I will pause to remark on this thread’s underlying materialist inanities . . .

    First, it seems the collection of neural cells and assocaited electro-chemistry embedded in a bio-bot known as KS has emitted secretions that have triggered the bio-bot to press certain buttons and trigger a mechanical and electronic process that appears above as alleged information bearing messages presenting alleged arguments and evidence.

    But, as Crick’s neurones triggered his bio-bot to type up, a bio-bot is best explained [what is that to a bio-bot shaped by genes and survival of the fittest?] by the astonishing hypothesis:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing. [1994]

    No wonder Philip Johnson acidly retorted, that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Johnson then acidly commented: “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [[Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

    So it seems to me that before it can make anything that we can accept as an argument with logical connexions between evidence, assumptions and conclusions, the bio-bot known as KS needs to address this by Haldane:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    In order to do so, the bio-bot known as KS needs to also answer this by Reppert, about what happens to reasoning under evo mat assumptions:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    Until such are properly resolved — and on evo mat assumptions due to self reference they cannot be, we have no reason to take the glyphs standing in for mouth noises secreted by the neural networks in the bio-bot known as KS seriously. The bio-bot is shaped by frozen accidents, it cannot help itself, even when it imagines — that must be an emergent delusion riding on the physical cause-effect chains — that it is reasoning, presenting evidence and drawing warranted conclusions. For on the relevant assumptions and claims, such things do not exist.

    But they do exist (even those whose worldviews deny such are forced to kidnap concepts and ideas they have no right to, from their proper foundation and use them implicitly in arguing . . . ), so we have excellent reason to know that the evo mat picture of the world is fatally and irretrievably self-refuting.

    We need a worldview that from foundations up, is consistent with our lives as reasonable responsible creatures. the only reasonable answer tot his is that we are created by One who is the necessary, eternal being at the root of reality, who is inherently good and has given us senses, minds, and consciences to guide us as we live under responsible moral government.

    But, we still have not addressed how minds and bodies can interact.

    Eng Derek Smith, who researches the field in the UK, has a useful model the two-tier controller cybernetic system, as is outlined and further linked here at IOSE (which of course — despite knowing or having easy access to the discussion, KS has studiously avoided in his ideological, irresponsible attempts to manipulate).

    In effect just as a model that allows reasoned discussion, once we have a two-tier controller in and linked to the loop, we can answer to the patterns that we observe. sensors are fed back to the i/o neural network controller, and this then also loops back to effectors and interfaces the outside world. Where also proprioception allows sensing of internal state and orientation, forming a homunculus of the self in the world. The higher order supervisory controller then interacts with the neural network and the system, INFORMATIONALLY. (Some have suggested possible quantum influence mechanisms, that is of little import.)

    A classic exercise was to use lenses that inverted the world image of a volunteer. After a few days, the image was processed internally to give the correct perception, where of course we should know the image on the retina is inverted. So, we know that processing is as important as signals. Similarly, we have probably all had the experience of perceiving someone as someone familiar, only to realise on closer inspection that this is not who we thought it was. And there are ever so many optical illusions that point to the significance of processing.

    In that context, we can find a reasonable response to the split and half-brain persons as well as those that have had rods driven through the brains by accidents, etc. We can easily enough understand that processing difficulties and confusing circumstances can lead to strange outcomes. As was pointed out several times above but studiously ignored by KS et al.

    Of course the underlying problem they have is ideological confirmation bias: they are looking for things they imagine are well explained by their evo mat models, while failing to understand that long before we get to that, the models have self-destructed from the ground up. A self-refuting model cannot be right.

    But also, since on track record there is little care or concern to be truthful accurate or fair, such will push talking points they think will advance their agenda, as they believe that might and manipulation make ‘truth’ ‘knowledge’ and ‘right.’

    Hence how they see nothing wrong with slander, censorship and career busting when it serves their agenda. It’s all a power game and to the victors belong the spoils.

    Which is utterly monstrous nihilism.

    But, someone will ask, what about that patient who had half a brain atheist and half a brain theist?

    Smuggled question-begging assumption tracing to the self refuting evo mat picture of brains and minds as neural networks in physical causal closure.

    It seems that it never occurred to them that there is a very simple explanation looking them in the face: if the claims are true (we have little reason to be confident int he truthfulness of such ideologues, so that needs first to be properly documented)we have here massive abnormality and confusion due to disorganisation of the controller subsystem.

    By definition confused people do, say and think confused things.

    Weiland’s remarks (those of a physician) are worth pondering:

    I think the problem may be caused by accepting the premise that in this tragic severing of the corpus callosum (the connection between the brain hemispheres) two separate persons have emerged. I suggest they have not, at least not in any sense that supports the dilemma that the neurosurgeon seems to claim it poses for Christian belief.

    The aim seems to be to lead to the conclusion that because of this dilemma, there therefore can be no such thing as an individual with a transcendent, non-material soul who is also capable of being held eternally responsible for his or her decisions.1 So let’s examine all that carefully, particularly the assumption that there are two persons involved here. And what makes it difficult, and what we have to bear in mind constantly, is that we are dealing with pathology here—a tragic thing in our fallen world—not with a normal situation.2 . . . .

    the only way in which this is a dilemma for a Christian is if we assume that there are in fact two souls, each with a rational responsible power of choice/action, each somehow separately connecting to a separate part of the one brain. But how has that been demonstrated? Quite simply, it hasn’t.

    In fact, it is not likely that one would even say, if one were observing this patient in their everyday life, that there were two persons in any other than a relatively trivial sense. Split-brain cases in clinical practice are very complicated, given the brain’s plasticity, but one expert comments that in such cases, “speech, verbal intelligence, calculation, motor coordination, verbal reasoning and recall, personality and temperament are all preserved to a surprising degree in the absence of hemispheric interconnection.” See this clinical article. It also says that situations that require “extremely rapid processing of very complex information that is typically handled within lateralized regions (that is, lexical and affective [word and mood—CW] processes)” may be “particularly sensitive to corpus callosum abnormality”.

    So I suspect that it is likely that all sorts of other aspects of the person’s functioning would still be exhibiting as if they were one entity. That suggestion is supported by this abstract of Tim Bayne’s 2010 book The Unity of Consciousness on Oxford Scholarship Online, at this link:

    “The received view within psychology and philosophy is that the split?brain (commissurotomy) procedure3 leads to a breakdown in the unity of consciousness. Disunity models of the split?brain can be divided into two classes: two?streams models, according to which patients have two streams of consciousness, and partial unity models, according to which patients have a merely partially unified consciousness. Both models are motivated by the cognitive and behavioural disunities that patients exhibit in certain laboratory conditions, but they struggle to account for the cognitive and behavioural unity that patients demonstrate in everyday life. Preferable to disunity models is a full unity ‘switch’ model, according to which consciousness in the split?brain rapidly switches between hemispheres. It is argued that only the switch model can account for both the behavioural disunities that split?brain patients exhibit under experimental conditions and the behavioural unities that they exhibit outside of such contexts.”

    Note this section in particular: “the cognitive and behavioural unity that patients demonstrate in everyday life.” In short, I am suggesting that the patient referred to in this video, though they may exhibit some bizarre things, like the left hand sometimes doing things that the right hand wants to reverse and so on, and expressing two views of God, would not likely themselves support the idea that there are two separate persons, nor would observations support that when it comes to everyday life. And Bayne seems to have concluded that such observations as there in split-brain patients can be better accounted for via an ‘alternation’ between the two centres of consciousness.

    So the very notion that there are two ‘entities’ is on shaky ground

    Looks like absent the question-begging a prioris being imposed, there is nothing that forces the conclusion KS et al wish.

    $0.02

    Good day

    KF

    PS: I have simply spoken for record to provide some balance.

  121. 121
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    I didn’t see the citation to Report, and I do think it’s worth taking seriously, but it’s not unanswerable. The answer lies in seeing that semantic content, properly understood, is explained in terms of the homomorphic relations between neurophysiological processes and other processes (somatic and environmental). The intentionality of thought is conceptually autonomous, in that we don’t need naturalism (or dualism) in order to understand it, but it can be explained in naturalistic terms. (So yes, I am committed to a subtle distinction between understanding and explanation.)

  122. 122
    keiths says:

    Kantian Naturalist,

    I think your comment above was intended for a different thread.

  123. 123
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Keiths, my (121) was in response to this bit quoted by KF in his (120):

    It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    . . . which is why I indicated one way in which semantic content can be ‘naturalized’.

  124. 124
    keiths says:

    KN,

    Okay. Sorry for the confusion.

  125. 125
    keiths says:

    This confused me:

    I didn’t see the citation to Report…

    I think you meant Reppert.

  126. 126
    keiths says:

    JWTruthInLove,

    The Bible is full of contradictions on many topics. Not surprisingly, this includes the soul.

    You cite some verses in support of the idea that the soul is not immaterial and is not distinct from the body, but I can cite verses in support of the opposite:

    And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    Matthew 10:28, KJV

    6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

    7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

    8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

    2 Cor 5:6-8 KJV

    Does the JW in your username stand for ‘Jehovah’s Witness’? I know that Witnesses would agree with you, but most Christians do not, because of verses like those above.

    P.S. Welcome to the thread.

  127. 127
    keiths says:

    bornagain,

    You claim that I am discussing a “strawman version” of the soul.

    Can you support your claim? I’ve already asked you, but you’re avoiding my question:

    BA,

    Why don’t you describe for us exactly which aspects of my “strawman version of the soul” you disagree with, and for each of those aspects, what you believe instead?

    Since you disagree with me so vehemently, you must have a very clear idea of what is wrong with my “strawman version”.

    It will be pretty embarrassing for you if you can’t come up with something, so I know you’re motivated.

  128. 128
    Joe says:

    keiths,

    Just because you are an idiot on an agenda, that doesn’t mean your diatribe hasn’t been refuted.

    That you were forced to lie about then quote from the Creation Ministries tells us everything we need to know.

    That you cannot support your nonsense wrt what Christians think the soul is, and you have been told by christians that you are wrong, pretty much proves that you are also pathological.

    The claim of strawman is confirmed by the fact that you have failed to support your version of the soul.

    It should be embarrassing for you but it isn’t because as I said, you are pathological…

  129. 129
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Ah, I see — yes, it was the auto-correct on my phone that turned “Reppert” to “Report.”

  130. 130
    keiths says:

    bornagain77,

    We’re still waiting for an answer.

  131. 131
    bornagain77 says:

    You as a dogmatic atheist want an answer to what keiths? An answer to why you falsely think you have refuted the existence of the soul when you have done nothing of the sort? Sorry I don’t have an answer for why you as an atheist are so irrational and will not accept falsification for your position from the best science we have.,,,

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-459110

    Please note that the falsification of your a priori materialistic/atheistic position by quantum mechanics is achieved to a certainty of 70 standard deviations and 80 orders of magnitude respectfully keiths! That is level of certainty for my position, a Theist, the position that materialism is false, that literally defies meaningful human comprehension. If you were rational you would accept these results and not just ignore them as if they have not completely undermined any credibility you have as to trying to establish the non-existence of the soul. So as to the question of why are you so irrational I have no answer, it is a puzzle that is far more mysterious than quantum mechanics is. As to why people would fight so vehemently against God I guess will forever puzzle me while I’m here on this earth. But certainly don’t envy the prospect for dogmatic atheists after this life, nor the sheer insanity of their position within this life:

    video – Howard Storm continues to share his gripping story of his own near death experience. Today, he picks up just as Jesus was rescuing him from the horrors of Hell and carrying him into the glories of Heaven.
    http://www.daystar.com/ondeman.....KvFrYYsE31

  132. 132
    bornagain77 says:

    Of note: Why Hell is so Horrible – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hd_so3wPw8

  133. 133
    keiths says:

    BA77:

    You as a dogmatic atheist want an answer to what keiths?

    My questions, of course:

    bornagain,

    You claim that I am discussing a “strawman version” of the soul.

    Can you support your claim? I’ve already asked you, but you’re avoiding my question:

    BA,

    Why don’t you describe for us exactly which aspects of my “strawman version of the soul” you disagree with, and for each of those aspects, what you believe instead?

    Since you disagree with me so vehemently, you must have a very clear idea of what is wrong with my “strawman version”.

    It will be pretty embarrassing for you if you can’t come up with something, so I know you’re motivated.

  134. 134
    keiths says:

    KF,

    First you said you were not interested; then you said you were too busy; now you are unbusy and interested enough to post a 2000+ word comment. Funny.

    Anyway, I’m glad you’re here.

    Your lengthy comment covers three main topics:

    1. Arguments against physically-based cognition.

    Unfortunately, these are irrelevant, because the issue we’ve been discussing here is whether dualism can be reconciled with observations of split-brain patients.

    As I wrote on another thread:

    “Evo mat” doesn’t self-refute, but even if it did, that wouldn’t solve your problem. Your position isn’t merely the denial of “evo mat”. You positively believe in an immaterial soul, and so your problem is to reconcile that belief with the evidence from split-brain patients.

    I’d love to discuss #1 if you’d like to start a thread, but here we are talking about the immaterial soul and split-brain patients.

    2. A lengthy disquisition on Derek Smith’s model.

    3. Some brief remarks on the split-brain observations.

    This is the relevant part of your comment, but it is short and very weak.

    You write:

    In that context, we can find a reasonable response to the split and half-brain persons as well as those that have had rods driven through the brains by accidents, etc. We can easily enough understand that processing difficulties and confusing circumstances can lead to strange outcomes…

    But, someone will ask, what about that patient who had half a brain atheist and half a brain theist?

    …It seems that it never occurred to them that there is a very simple explanation looking them in the face: if the claims are true… we have here massive abnormality and confusion due to disorganisation of the controller subsystem.

    By definition confused people do, say and think confused things.

    Your entire argument is summed up by that last sentence:

    By definition confused people do, say and think confused things.

    Your explanation doesn’t work, because:

    1. Split-brain patients are not confused. Each hemisphere is coherent and can answer questions and follow directions. You don’t have confusion; you have two minds in one skull.

    2. Even if split-brain patients were confused, that is not enough to explain the observations. Each hemisphere knows, believes, desires, chooses, and acts separately, in an unconfused manner. Again, it’s not confusion — it’s two minds in one skull.

    KF, you’ll need to do a lot better than this in order to salvage the soul.

    The rest of your comment is a long quote of Carl Wieland that I will address separately tomorrow.

  135. 135
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, so you set a strawman version of the soul, a version nobody agrees with in the first place, proceed to knock that version down, then declare yourself the winner, all the while ignoring overwhelming evidence from quantum mechanics to the contrary, ignoring testimony from CentralScrutinizer, a firsthand experiencer of a split-brain experiment, to the contrary, who told you personally that you are wrong in your overall interpretation of what is happening in the experiment. Ignoring all this (and much more) you think you have conclusively refuted the existence of the soul in all possible circumstances? Like I said before keiths the only thing you have compellingly shown is that you have no clue as to what constitutes scientific proof.,, For me this is a crystal clear example of dogma dictating science. You really need to get away from Darwinian science where the conclusion comes beforehand instead of after examination of the evidence.,,, It is really sad to watch you slide down this slope of irrationality refusing all offers of help. Oh well.

  136. 136

    One solution to the split brain patient would be to say that one keeps the soul, and the other is a zombie.

    Not sure how you would tell which 🙂

  137. 137
    bornagain77 says:

    To show you that the strawman definition of soul and ‘free will’ that you are knocking down is not so cut and dried, there is a long standing disagreement in Christianity with Calvinists as to how deeply free will should be regarded,,,

    A Calvinist’s Understanding of “Free-Will”
    http://www.reclaimingthemind.o.....free-will/

    Perhaps you could debate a Calvinist as to whether you have refuted his version of the soul?

  138. 138
    Joe says:

    keiths:

    1. Split-brain patients are not confused. Each hemisphere is coherent and can answer questions and follow directions. You don’t have confusion; you have two minds in one skull.

    That is incorrect. You have one brain, split in two.

    But all that is moot because keiths is a lying coward who refuses to support his take on the soul.

    IOW keiths has been exposed as a patholigical liar, again.

  139. 139
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths claimed:

    Split-brain patients are not confused.

    Yet Centralscrutinizer testified

    BTW, with regards to your citation of the split-brain experiments (and people who suffer from that due to injury, etc). I was involved in one of those split-brain experiments myself. (Which is possible by temporarily numbing the corpus callosum.) And believe me, it was the damnedest thing. The thing is, even though different parts of my brain were acting as if they had no knowledge of “each other”, behind it all was still “me”, consciously experiencing the strange disconnection. It’s akin to having different senses, like hearing and sight. You, a normal person (I assume), have hearing and you have sight, and you consciously experience them both concurrently. But sight and hearing are RADICALLY different experiences within consciousness. Hearing is not sight. Yet, they are somehow unified in that single consciousness which is “you.” The split-brain experience does weird things, and causes different “circuits” to become unaware of other “circuits.” Even to the point of having different “will” about various actions. But behind the weird disconnect the conscious “you” are still experiencing all the weird disconnects. All through-out there is never more than a single consciousness, even though much confusion about how the mechanics of brain processes are apparent.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-460565

    So why do you think we should accept your forced interpretation of the split-brain experience over Centralscrutinizer’s first hand account? keiths you simply do not have the case that you think you have! Another funny thing in you trying to deny free will altogether keiths is that it defeats the whole purpose of you being here on UD hoping to mislead others into believing your atheistic lies:

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    And indeed while I am certainly tempted to think you are nothing but a Darwinbot with no true free will who is forced to be as obstinately insane as you are keiths, as to conceding you will never ever be rational, I can;’t bring myself to do that because, besides plain common sense that free will is necessary for rationality in the first place, the evidence from our best science itself dictates that free will is integral to our best understanding of reality. i.e. Quantum Mechanics. This is the experiment that completely undermines your no free will view of reality:

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (*conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    Perhaps you would like to try overturn the entirety of quantum theory keiths just so as to hold onto your atheistic nihilism and truly prove to us that we have no free will????,,, Moreover, in the following experiment, the claim that past material states determine future conscious choices (determinism) is falsified by the fact that present conscious choices effect past material states:

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    In other words, if my conscious choices really are just merely the result of whatever state the material particles in my brain happen to be in in the past (deterministic) how in blue blazes are my choices instantaneously effecting the state of material particles into the past? This finding is simply completely inexplicable to a materialistic/atheistic understanding of reality!

    And whereas free will is undeniable at the single particle level of quantum mechanics, when one tries to effect macro-systems with the intentionality of free will then one finds that, even in keeping with these findings from split-brain research, that the capacity of free will to effect the macro-system is greatly diminished as to having a dramatic impact on the macro-system,,,

    Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – Random Number Generators – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4198007

    Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research – Scientific Study of Consciousness-Related Physical Phenomena – publications
    http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/publications.html

    But for your atheistic position of no free will to hold keiths you would have had to prove that free will had no effect whatsoever on the macro-system. But that is not what was found in the experiments. The capacity of free will to effect the system, while greatly diminished, still had a discernible influence over the system. Thus your position is falsified once again. Then there is the little matter of your position being falsified by 70 standard deviations by Bell’s inequalities and by 80 orders of magnitude by Leggett’s inequalities. That is NOT a minor degree to be falsified keiths! i.e. What all that shows is that your materialistic/atheistic position is completely absurd. And that is just from science keiths, from common sense we find your position reducto ad absurdum on at least 8 points:

    I strongly suggest watching Dr. Craig’s following short presentation, that I have linked, to get a full feel for just how insane the metaphysical naturalist’s position actually is.

    Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

    1. The argument from the intentionality (aboutness) of mental states implies non-physical minds (dualism), which is incompatible with naturalism
    2. The existence of meaning in language is incompatible with naturalism, Rosenberg even says that all the sentences in his own book are meaningless
    3. The existence of truth is incompatible with naturalism
    4. The argument from moral praise and blame is incompatible with naturalism
    5. Libertarian freedom (free will) is incompatible with naturalism
    6. Purpose is incompatible with naturalism
    7. The enduring concept of self is incompatible with naturalism
    8. The experience of first-person subjectivity (“I”) is incompatible with naturalism

    Indeed keiths, you yourself don’t even live as if your atheistic view of reality is true:

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt: ,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    Supplemental notes:

    “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
    —C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason)

    “certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.,,,”
    Eugene Wigner – The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – – 1960

    “Nothing in evolution can account for the soul of man. The difference between man and the other animals is unbridgeable. Mathematics is alone sufficient to prove in man the possession of a faculty unexistent in other creatures. Then you have music and the artistic faculty. No, the soul was a separate creation.”
    Alfred Russel Wallace – An interview by Harold Begbie printed on page four of The Daily Chronicle (London) issues of 3 November and 4 November 1910.

    Evolution of the Genus Homo – Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences – Ian Tattersall, Jeffery H. Schwartz, May 2009
    Excerpt: “Unusual though Homo sapiens may be morphologically, it is undoubtedly our remarkable cognitive qualities that most strikingly demarcate us from all other extant species. They are certainly what give us our strong subjective sense of being qualitatively different. And they are all ultimately traceable to our symbolic capacity. Human beings alone, it seems, mentally dissect the world into a multitude of discrete symbols, and combine and recombine those symbols in their minds to produce hypotheses of alternative possibilities. When exactly Homo sapiens acquired this unusual ability is the subject of debate.”

    Verse and Music:

    Psalm 139:13
    For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

    Remind Me Who I Am Jason Gray
    http://myktis.com/songs/remind-me-who-i-am/

  140. 140
  141. 141
    keiths says:

    Lizzie,

    One solution to the split brain patient would be to say that one keeps the soul, and the other is a zombie.

    Not sure how you would tell which 🙂

    That’s the thing about philosoophical zombies. By definition, you can’t tell that they’re zombies.

    This causes an interesting inversion: if you think based on observation that someone is a philosophical zombie, then you have made a mistake; but if you think so for no particular reason, then you might be right!

  142. 142

    Well, I don’t actually think philosophical zombies make any sense, but assuming I did….

  143. 143
    Joe says:

    Darwinists and neo-darwinists are philosophical zombies. And Lizzie is right, they don’t make any sense…

  144. 144
    Joe says:

    The real solution to all split-brain patients is that keiths doesn’t know what he is talking about wrt souls (science, ID, evolutionism, etc)

  145. 145
    keiths says:

    Lizzie,

    Well, I don’t actually think philosophical zombies make any sense, but assuming I did….

    I doubt that they exist, but I do think that they are conceivable. That is, I don’t think the concept is obviously incoherent.

    Some people believe that if an entity thinks it’s conscious, then it definitely is conscious. I think that’s an equivocation on both ‘thinks’ and ‘conscious’.

    Each of those words has both a ‘propositional’ sense and a ‘subjective experience’ sense. To think that I am conscious can be merely a propositional attitude; it doesn’t necessarily imply that I am having the conscious experience of thinking that I am conscious. And of course a philosophical zombie, by definition, could not have the conscious experience, thought it would necessarily, again by definition, take the associated propositional stance.

    In a similar vein, to know something is not necessarily accompanied by the subjective experience of knowing it. You can know something even if you are not thinking about knowing it. The experience doesn’t have to accompany the propositional stance. They are separable.

    It seems to me that the subjective and propositional aspects of ‘thinking one is conscious’ are likewise logically separable, even if they are never separate in practice. If I’m right about that, then philosophical zombies are at least conceivable, though they may not exist in reality.

    On further reflection, it occurs to me that we humans can think that we’re conscious without actually having the subjective experience. But that may be merely for the same reason we distinguish between the questions “Do you think you’re conscious?” and “Are you thinking you’re conscious?”.

    Either way, I’m going to stop. My brain hurts.

  146. 146
    keiths says:

    The invitation is still open:

    …observations of split-brain patients pose a serious challenge to those who believe “that each of us has an immaterial mind or soul that constitutes our true self, and that the body, including the brain, is merely a vehicle ‘inhabited’ and controlled by the mind or soul.”

    I know that many of you believe in immaterial souls, so I would be interested in hearing how you can reconcile — and if you can reconcile — your belief in the soul with the fascinating characteristics of split-brain patients.

  147. 147
    kairosfocus says:

    KS, you have been long since both anticipated and cogently answered. All you are doing is repeating tired talking points drumbeat style. KF

  148. 148
    keiths says:

    KF,

    When you, of all people, can only manage a couple of lines in response to a rebuttal, that’s a clear sign that you have no response.

    Anyone out there who can come to KF’s aid?

  149. 149
    Joe says:

    LoL! @ keiths!

    YOU are the one in need of aid, keiths.

    Anyone out there who can come to keiths’ aid and support his diatribe wrt the soul?

    Ya see I agree with:

    observations of split-brain patients pose a serious challenge to those who believe “that each of us has an immaterial mind or soul that constitutes our true self, and that the body, including the brain, is merely a vehicle ‘inhabited’ and controlled by the mind or soul.”

    I just don’t know anyone who adheres to that notion of the soul. And that means it is keiths’ strawman.

    So is there anyone out there who can come to keiths’ aid? Anyone?

  150. 150
    keiths says:

    CentralScrutinizer,

    Are you still planning to describe your split-brain experience in this thread? If not, I’d like to copy your description from the other thread and respond to it.

    If you’re still planning to comment, take your time. No rush. I just don’t want to wait if you’ve already decided not to comment.

  151. 151
    Joe says:

    So is there anyone out there who can come to keiths’ aid?

    Anyone?

  152. 152
    Eugen says:

    Keiths

    You missed my reply because my UD comments are delayed for a while, I’m not sure why that happens.

    I finally watched the videos and transcribed the last bit of video 3 where Dr Gazzaniga explains what’s going on in a person’s brain:

    “Mind is made up of constellation of independent and semi-independent agents. These agents, processes can carry on activities outside our consciousness. Even that goes on to some final system, I think is in a left hemisphere which pulls all this info into a final theory to explain independent elements.That theory becomes a theory of our selves and the world.”

    It doesn’t come across from the Dr. himself that the underlying “processes” and “activities” in a split brain patient form different persons. Notice how he says “our consciousness” by which I think he means our unified one-person consciousness, not some fluid multi-personality consciousness . Also, it seems that the left hemisphere is dominant and has the final say.

  153. 153
    Joe says:

    So no one can help keiths out- just as predicted.

    keiths is right, the truth has a way of coming out.

  154. 154
    Querius says:

    Keiths:

    That’s a faulty criterion. You can’t take the temperature of wetness, or weigh it, or measure its volume, but it’s still a material phenomenon.

    Wetness can be measured by a tensiometer, which measures surface tension. A “wetness indicator” is also a feature in some diapers.

    Well, so here’s your chance to say “I was wrong.” 🙂

  155. 155
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    Nice try, but my statement is correct. I said

    You can’t take the temperature of wetness, or weigh it, or measure its volume, but it’s still a material phenomenon.

    …which is true, of course.

    My point is that you need to come up with a better criterion for what counts as immaterial. Yours doesn’t work, as my wetness example shows.

    In the meantime, how about tackling the split-brain issue? From my first comment in the thread:

    …observations of split-brain patients pose a serious challenge to those who believe “that each of us has an immaterial mind or soul that constitutes our true self, and that the body, including the brain, is merely a vehicle ‘inhabited’ and controlled by the mind or soul.”

    I know that many of you believe in immaterial souls, so I would be interested in hearing how you can reconcile — and if you can reconcile — your belief in the soul with the fascinating characteristics of split-brain patients.

  156. 156
    Joe says:

    So no one is willing to save keiths’ strawman. Figures…

  157. 157
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hello Keith,

    Would you also say that being born, or even becoming, blind and deaf presents a problem for an immaterial soul? If not, then I fail to see how brain damage presents a problem for an immaterial soul. What is the difference?

    Our physical bodies, and especially our brains, play an almost complete role in our daily experience of human existence. Physical impairments can drastically alter our daily experience… and the free-will we will subsequently exercise from our immaterial soul. But that fact does not in any way detract from the immaterial soul because no-one is arguing that the immaterial soul is all-knowing (at least, not in a way that we can access during human existence).

  158. 158
    keiths says:

    Hi Chris,

    Welcome to the thread.

    Would you also say that being born, or even becoming, blind and deaf presents a problem for an immaterial soul?

    Yes, I think blindness and deafness present a problem, at least for those who think the soul is capable of seeing and hearing independently of the body. This would include people who believe that the soul leaves the body during near-death experiences and other out-of-body experiences, but that it can still see and hear while it does so.

    In fact, it’s a mystery to me why those people think we even need eyes and ears, if our souls can do the sensory jobs by themselves.

    If not, then I fail to see how brain damage presents a problem for an immaterial soul. What is the difference?

    Not all types of brain damage present problems for the soul. I’ve tried to focus the thread on split-brain patients because I think their characteristics are particularly hard to explain sensibly in terms of the soul.

    Did you watch the videos? They’re amazing.

    Physical impairments can drastically alter our daily experience… and the free-will we will subsequently exercise from our immaterial soul.

    Most Christians think that the soul is morally responsible, and that the soul itself is therefore worthy of reward or punishment after death depending on its actions and beliefs in this life. If the soul is morally responsible, it must be the seat of the will. But the split-brain patients show that the will is a function of the brain.

    What’s amazing about the split-brain patients is that they have two wills, one for each hemisphere. Did you see my example of the man who attacked his wife with one arm and defended her with the other?

    But that fact does not in any way detract from the immaterial soul because no-one is arguing that the immaterial soul is all-knowing (at least, not in a way that we can access during human existence).

    The problem is that when you study the split-brain patients, you find that the left hemisphere can know things that the right hemisphere doesn’t, and vice-versa. If there were a single soul communicating with both hemispheres, it would know what both hemispheres know.

  159. 159
    Chris Doyle says:

    Thanks Keith.

    It would be fascinating to know whether a blind and deaf person who had an out-of-body experience reported vision and hearing as part of that experience. If they did, then that would suggest that the immaterial soul can, in those circumstances, relay sensory data back to the brain. Nonetheless, the idea that the immaterial soul is where the sensory work is ordinarily taking place is not one that I relate to. The physical senses are the result of data gathered by bodies and processed by brains. If we are governed by an immaterial soul, then this data is analysed and decisions are made accordingly (ie. free-will responds to sensory data). If you are blind and deaf, the brain cannot process data from sight and sound, therefore it is not available for the immaterial soul to act upon (at least while we’re referring to in-the-body experience!).

    In the case of the split-brain patients, where simultaneous contradictory decisions are being acted upon this is simply an extreme version of the kind of self-contradictions that “normal people” live with, and act upon, all the time. Have you never seen a footballer try to shoot and pass at the same time?

    In the case of the man simultaneously attempting to beat his wife and restrain himself, for example, it is possible (if not, highly likely) that one of those acts is truly involuntary (why would he want to beat his wife?). But even if it wasn’t, even if he wanted to beat his wife at the same time as wanting to restrain himself, this does not represent anything out of the ordinary in human existence. It’s just that the split-brain is sending two separately processed and contradictory data-streams to the immaterial soul and it can only act on what it is experiencing in the physical realm: even if there are two separate, but simultaneous and contradictory experiences to act on.

    There is no reason why the immaterial soul should be able to fix the brain damage in a split-brain patient and resolve the contradiction, any more than it should be able to see and hear in the absence of sensory data (during an in-the-body experience anyway).

    In this human existence, we enjoy free-will but we are nonetheless severely limited (some more than others) by our physical bodies. And that is very much the point of human existence in the first place. Such limits do not compromise the immaterial soul. Indeed, without the immaterial soul, there can be no free-will. That is a huge and fatal problem for non-dualists.

  160. 160
    Joe says:

    Chris Doyle-

    Do you believe, as keiths sez, “that each of us has an immaterial mind or soul that constitutes our true self, and that the body, including the brain, is merely a vehicle ‘inhabited’ and controlled by the mind or soul.”

    Is that your idea of what the soul is?

  161. 161
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi Joe, not sure about the ‘inhabited’ bit, but certainly remote-controlled, yes.

  162. 162
    Joe says:

    The body and brain are remote controlled? Or the soul?

    keiths is saying that the soul has total control over us. We do as it directs us to do. Do you believe that?

  163. 163
    Chris Doyle says:

    Yes, the body and brain are remote-controlled. I agree that the soul – insofar as the soul is our true-self, the essence that existed before human existence began and will continue to exist after human existence ends – has total control over body and mind (with-in the limits of human existence).

    I detect disagreement!

  164. 164

    A question to those who take the view the brain and body are remote controlled by the mind or soul:

    This would seem to imply that the mind or soul does work on the brain and body – moves matter around.

    Moreover it moves it a systematic way, suggesting a resulting entropy decrease.

    Is the entropy of the mind or soul therefore increased?

    If not, how do we account for the decreased entropy of the brain or body?

  165. 165
    Joe says:

    Hi Chris,

    Yes I disagree with your view of the soul. And it seems to run counter to what your said:

    There is no reason why the immaterial soul should be able to fix the brain damage in a split-brain patient and resolve the contradiction, any more than it should be able to see and hear in the absence of sensory data (during an in-the-body experience anyway).

    If the soul controls the body then the brain does what?

    Or does the soul attempt to control the body and a malfunctioning brain messes up the incoming commands?

  166. 166
    keiths says:

    Chris Doyle, to Joe:

    Yes, the body and brain are remote-controlled. I agree that the soul – insofar as the soul is our true-self, the essence that existed before human existence began and will continue to exist after human existence ends – has total control over body and mind (with-in the limits of human existence).

    I detect disagreement!

    Yes, Joe’s been insisting throughout this thread that I’m battling a strawman, and that real Christians don’t believe that the soul governs the body. He thinks I just made that up.

  167. 167
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi Joe,

    That’s alright: we both agree we have one which is the main thing! And I’m perfectly open to persuasion on the matter. From what I can gather right now though, I would suggest that the brain controls the body, and that includes all of the bodily functions: respiration, digestion, locomotion, growth, etc, etc. Most of the things that the brain controls do not require free-will: they are just the jobs that it needs to get on with to keep us alive.

    But, our deliberate thoughts and deliberate actions are owned by the soul and so, insofar as the brain is needed to process thoughts and carry out bodily actions, the soul controls the brain. Free-will is not a physical part of the brain, but the brain must – if it physically can – obey the demands of free-will.

    In trying to emphasise the on-going separation of the soul from the brain, Chapter 39, Verse 42 of the Qu’ran comes to mind:

    “It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who reflect.”

  168. 168
    keiths says:

    Chris Doyle, quoting the Qu’ran:

    “It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who reflect.”

    That’s interesting. So if I’m interpreting that correctly, sleep is an out-of-body experience for Muslims!

  169. 169
    Joe says:

    Thanks Chris.

    I see the soul as more of a life-giving, ie an elan vital, thing. It records our thoughts & actions, ie our essence, and that is what is taken and judged.

    Along with life giving, the soul also carries with it the basic programming for that life form- yes that means I think all organisms have one, as well as a connection to the ethereal plane. Most people don’t seem to be able to utilize that connection. Jesus was able to. So for whatever reason most people are restricted in that sense.

    But anyway the soul would/ could also carry with it any memories of its last encounter in this realm.

    I don’t see the soul as a controlling thing- more of a guiding essence. Albeit a guiding essence that takes note whether or not we heeded that guidance!

    That is my point with a malfunctioning brain. Even given a good command there isn’t any guarantee it will be followed correctly

    Also see my comments in 96 & 97

  170. 170
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi Keith, yes, I think you’re interpreting it correctly. You could even go so far as to say that sleep is like death for Muslims! Only we come back to face another day.

    And Joe, I agree with virtually everything you’re saying. But the Qu’ran also points out that we chose this existence, meaning we must have existed in another realm before this physical one. Yes, the soul is life-giving: but there was life before bodies and there will be life after bodies (just not as we know it!)

    I also agree that all plants and animals have souls, though of a qualitatively different kind to ours.

    Though bodily impulses can, and do, often inform our decision making, the beauty of free-will is that we can *resist* when everything else is telling us to *do* and we can *do* when everything else is telling us to *do nothing*. Ultimately, there will be no excuses come Judgment Day because we are all in control of what we do: we can never say, “I didn’t want to hurt him, but my body wouldn’t listen.”

  171. 171
    keiths says:

    Chris,

    It would be fascinating to know whether a blind and deaf person who had an out-of-body experience reported vision and hearing as part of that experience. If they did, then that would suggest that the immaterial soul can, in those circumstances, relay sensory data back to the brain.

    But again, if the soul were capable of that, we wouldn’t need eyes and ears. The soul could just relay the information directly to the brain, all of the time.

    In the case of the split-brain patients, where simultaneous contradictory decisions are being acted upon this is simply an extreme version of the kind of self-contradictions that “normal people” live with, and act upon, all the time. Have you never seen a footballer try to shoot and pass at the same time?

    It’s not the same. In the case of split-brain patients, the two hemispheres can deliberately and systematically work against each other. For example, one hand can button up a shirt while the other hand unbuttons it.

    In the case of the man simultaneously attempting to beat his wife and restrain himself, for example, it is possible (if not, highly likely) that one of those acts is truly involuntary (why would he want to beat his wife?).

    As the buttoning/unbuttoning example shows, these are not involuntary actions. Why would one hemisphere want to beat his wife, you ask? Who knows? Why does any man want to beat his wife? It happens all the time, though. One hemisphere was presumably angry at her, while the other hemisphere was feeling protective. Two minds in one skull.

    But even if it wasn’t, even if he wanted to beat his wife at the same time as wanting to restrain himself, this does not represent anything out of the ordinary in human existence.

    Conflicting impulses aren’t out of the ordinary, but beating your wife with one arm and defending her with the other is extremely out of the ordinary. So is putting a cigarette in your mouth and trying to light it with one hand, while the other hand plucks the cigarette out and throws it away. One hemisphere wants to smoke. The other doesn’t. There are two wills in one skull. There can’t be a unified soul that is making our choices.

    It’s just that the split-brain is sending two separately processed and contradictory data-streams to the immaterial soul and it can only act on what it is experiencing in the physical realm: even if there are two separate, but simultaneous and contradictory experiences to act on.

    No, because in normal life, outside of the lab, both hemispheres are getting essentially the same sensory information. The data streams aren’t contradictory.

    There is no reason why the immaterial soul should be able to fix the brain damage in a split-brain patient and resolve the contradiction, any more than it should be able to see and hear in the absence of sensory data (during an in-the-body experience anyway).

    Fixing the brain damage and resolving the contradiction are two different things. The soul can’t fix the brain damage, but it should be able to integrate information from the two hemispheres. If the soul exists, we should see unified knowledge and unified will in split-brain patients. Instead, we see separate knowledge and separate wills. The soul can’t exist if it is responsible for knowledge and will. Or at the very least, you would have to posit two souls, one for each hemisphere. But that presents its own problems, obviously.

    In this human existence, we enjoy free-will but we are nonetheless severely limited (some more than others) by our physical bodies. And that is very much the point of human existence in the first place. Such limits do not compromise the immaterial soul.

    This isn’t about mere bodily limits. It is about two separate minds in a single skull. If splitting the brain splits the mind (or soul), then there is no reason to think that the mind or soul is immaterial.

    Indeed, without the immaterial soul, there can be no free-will. That is a huge and fatal problem for non-dualists.

    No, because free will isn’t essential. The world still makes sense without it. In any case, free will of the kind you are positing (known by philosophers as “libertarian” free will) is logically incoherent. I can point you to some threads where that is discussed, if you are interested.

    And there is a form of free will, known as “compatibilist” free will, that can exist even if the mind is material and even if the universe is deterministic. (For the record, I am a compatibilist.)

  172. 172
    Joe says:

    Thanks Chris:

    But the Qu’ran also points out that we chose this existence, meaning we must have existed in another realm before this physical one. Yes, the soul is life-giving: but there was life before bodies and there will be life after bodies (just not as we know it!)

    I am OK with that although my impression is that this existence was either chosen by our soul or from higher than that because there is a lesson to be learned- a lesson that cannot be learned in any other way OR we have something to do in this realm.

    Now to go dust off my Qu’ran…

  173. 173
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi Keith, thank-you for the response. Taking that, and previous comments into account, I remain unconvinced that split-brains equate to two separate material “souls”.

    The problem with your argument is that it is predicated on the notion that an immaterial soul would be capable of doing a better job than the brain does: in the physical realm. And, theologically speaking, that is simply untrue. Though I argue that the immaterial soul ultimately controls the brain, it can only work with what it’s got. If the brain is not processing visual or audio data, then clearly the soul cannot process it either (at least not while it is “in-the-body”… maybe it can outside-the-body). Likewise, if the two hemispheres of the brain can no longer work in co-ordination with each other, then there is nothing that the soul can do about that. In many respects, the soul is imprisoned by the mortal coil: necessarily so from a theological point of view.

    But then, you suggest that outside of the lab, the split-brain patients don’t experience these conflicting hemisphere problems… if that’s the case, then the whole argument about warring wills collapses.

    If however warring wills are a daily reality for these split-brain patients then they are simply living a more extreme, not different, version of the self-contradictory existence that normal people lead. Humans are experts at covering it up, but I guess splitting your brain eliminates that expertise. That’s all it is, Keith. But I will say it is as good as any argument I’ve heard that tries to eliminate our immortal souls! Your comments about free-will on the other hand are just crazy: you honestly believe that you are not free to choose whatever it is you freely want to choose? That is a far more serious and important example of self-contradictory behaviour than you will ever see in a split-brain patient.

  174. 174
    Joe says:

    OK got it- The Nobel Qur’an-

    Surah 39 42:

    It is Allah Who takes away the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep. He keeps those (souls) for which He has ordained death and sends the rest for a term appointed. Verily, in this are signs for a people who think deeply.

    Slightly different from what Chris posted. My Nobel Qur’an was given to me by a Saudi Cleric- the King Fahad Complex for the printing of the Holy Qur’an. English translation of the meanings and commentary.

  175. 175
    Joe says:

    strawman:

    The soul can’t fix the brain damage, but it should be able to integrate information from the two hemispheres.

  176. 176
    Querius says:

    Keith,

    My point is that you need to come up with a better criterion for what counts as immaterial. Yours doesn’t work, as my wetness example shows.

    I’ll graciously assume then that “wetness” is not the method that you’re suggesting be used to measure personality (which is arguably your “soul” according to the Bible). 😉

    I contend that personality is immaterial, and not measurable. I think you’re disagreeing, so that puts the onus on you to come up with a material method of measuring personality. Go for it.

    No, because neuroscience shows that the will itself is a function of the brain, and the split-brain studies confirm this. After the operation, each hemisphere possesses a separate, distinct will. Recall my examples:

    These examples are not consistent with a single, unified, immaterial will.

    Ok, because consciousness is not well understood, I’d like to resort to an analogy. This analogy is not intended to refute your assertion, but rather I’m using it to show that another explanation is reasonable. Here goes.

    No, because neuroscience shows that vision itself is a function of the brain, and the independent eye studies confirm this. After the operation, each eyeball possesses a separate, distinct view. Recall my examples:

    These examples are not consistent with a single, unified, immaterial concept of vision.

    Because our bilateral symmetry extends to our eyes and brain, having independent parallel processes within each hemisphere (and likely other structures) is no more (or less) remarkable than having a different view out of each eye that the brain somehow *fuses* into a stereoscopic illusion. Fusing two different perspectives does not invalidate the existence of personality any more than it invalidates the existence of vision.

    The important point is whether there is an immaterial soul that can function independently of the brain.

    Let’s use another analogy. Same caveats. Could you ever run the same software on a different computer?

  177. 177
    keiths says:

    Joe:

    Now to go dust off my Qu’ran…

    Joe,

    As a Muslim, shouldn’t you be taking better care of your Quran?

  178. 178
    keiths says:

    Chris,

    The problem with your argument is that it is predicated on the notion that an immaterial soul would be capable of doing a better job than the brain does: in the physical realm.

    Not really. We are talking about functions like knowledge, belief, desire, communication, and choice. Those are functions that are typically ascribed to the soul by those who believe in one.

    Though I argue that the immaterial soul ultimately controls the brain, it can only work with what it’s got. If the brain is not processing visual or audio data, then clearly the soul cannot process it either (at least not while it is “in-the-body”… maybe it can outside-the-body).

    But the split-brain patients are processing visual and auditory data, and the same data makes it to both hemispheres (outside of the lab). This is explained in the videos. Have you watched them? If you haven’t, I strongly recommend that you do.

    Inside the lab, the experimenters are able to present a visual stimulus to a single hemisphere. The other hemisphere doesn’t see it. When they test the hemispheres, they find that only the hemisphere that saw the stimulus is able to identify it (or a related stimulus). One hemisphere knows what it saw; the other hemisphere doesn’t. Two minds in one skull.

    Likewise, if the two hemispheres of the brain can no longer work in co-ordination with each other, then there is nothing that the soul can do about that.

    The two hemispheres can work in coordination with each other. It’s just that they have to do that voluntarily, and the information needs to be passed outside the person and then back in, just as if two people were communicating. This will be much clearer if you watch the videos.

    But then, you suggest that outside of the lab, the split-brain patients don’t experience these conflicting hemisphere problems… if that’s the case, then the whole argument about warring wills collapses.

    No, they still have the problems (like one hand buttoning up a shirt while the other unbuttons it). The hemispheres still have to cooperate in order for the person to function well. It’s just that certain phenomena are less obvious outside of the lab. For example, the differing beliefs of the two hemispheres (did you see the bit about the patient whose right hemisphere was a theist while the left hemisphere was an atheist?) aren’t obvious in real life, because only the left hemisphere can speak.

    If however warring wills are a daily reality for these split-brain patients then they are simply living a more extreme, not different, version of the self-contradictory existence that normal people lead.

    No, because while normal people have contradictory impulses, they don’t simultaneously act on one impulse with one arm and a completely different impulse with the other arm, like the man who simultaneously attacked and defended his wife.

    Normal people also don’t believe one thing on the right side and a completely contradictory thing on the left. We are talking about two separate minds. A unified soul, if it existed, would be able to combine knowledge from both hemispheres, and it would be able to act as a unified will. You wouldn’t see the hemispheres doing different things, like trying to smoke with one hand and plucking the cigarette out and throwing it away with the other. A soul would decide to do one thing or the other, and the arms would work in a coordinated fashion to carry out the desires of the soul. That doesn’t happen, because there is no soul. Each hemisphere has its own will.

    But I will say it is as good as any argument I’ve heard that tries to eliminate our immortal souls!

    Watch the videos, think about it some more, and hang out on this thread and ask more questions. The evidence really is more compelling than you have yet realized.

    Your comments about free-will on the other hand are just crazy: you honestly believe that you are not free to choose whatever it is you freely want to choose?

    No, I do think I am free to choose, but in the compatibilist sense of free will, not the libertarian sense.

    If you’re interested, here’s a TSZ thread in which we discuss libertarian free will and why it’s logically incoherent.

    You’re certainly welcome to hang out and comment at TSZ, by the way.

  179. 179
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    I contend that personality is immaterial, and not measurable. I think you’re disagreeing, so that puts the onus on you to come up with a material method of measuring personality. Go for it.

    I haven’t claimed that the personality/mind/soul is measurable in any simple way, with calipers or some such thing. I’ve claimed that it is a material phenomenon. The evidence for that is quite strong. Intoxicants, brain damage, anesthetics, etc., all have a strong effect on the personality or suppress it altogether. There is no indication that the personality is an immaterial phenomenon, because there is no indication that it can function independently of the body.

    Fusing two different perspectives does not invalidate the existence of personality any more than it invalidates the existence of vision.

    But that’s just it. In the split-brain patients, the perspectives aren’t fused. The hemispheres are functioning separately. One hemisphere can attack, while the other defends. One hemisphere can button up, while the other hemisphere unbuttons. One hemisphere can be a theist, while the other is an atheist. We aren’t talking about a unified personality here. There is no unified soul “behind” the hemispheres. It’s just the hemispheres themselves, disconnected and functioning autonomously.

  180. 180
    Joe says:

    keiths:

    As a Muslim, shouldn’t you be taking better care of your Quran?

    LoL! Add keiths to the list of people who do not know what it means to be a Muslim. And add keiths to the list of people who cannot understand a saying.

  181. 181
    Joe says:

    keiths:

    We are talking about functions like knowledge, belief, desire, communication, and choice. Those are functions that are typically ascribed to the soul by those who believe in one.

    Reference please.

  182. 182
    Querius says:

    Keiths,

    But that’s just it. In the split-brain patients, the perspectives aren’t fused. The hemispheres are functioning separately.

    And people whose brains don’t fuse their vision have eyes that see different things separately (as is the case with one of my sons). This does not invalidate the possibility that the brain can fuse two different views in either case.

    That a personality–a soul, if you like–can maintain and negotiate conflicted desires and thoughts shouldn’t be astonishing to you. For example, Sigmund Freud’s model of the psyche identified the conflicts between the Id, Ego, and Superego.

    Even common experience includes decisions such as do I study or play a game, do I buy that sexy car or not, and so on. It doesn’t mean that the soul or personality doesn’t exist.

  183. 183
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    Do you believe that my soul is distinct from yours?

    (There’s a point to my question, I assure you.)

  184. 184
    Querius says:

    Keiths,

    I’ll reply to your question, but first help me understand why you think that the fact that we can have significant conflicts within our personality (i.e. soul), as demonstrated by your left-right brain examples of brain-damaged individuals, disproves the existence of a non-material soul.

    Thanks.

  185. 185
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    My question is related to your question.

    Suppose someone makes the claim that you and I share the same soul. We demur, pointing out that we have different knowledge, different beliefs, different preferences, different emotions. We make different choices and carry out different actions. If the soul is responsible for those things, we obviously do not share the same soul.

    She says, “Sure, I realize all that, but you still share the same soul. There can be conflicts within souls, after all.”

    Would you find her argument convincing?

    And if not, why should I find your argument convincing?

    In split brain patients, the two hemispheres can have different knowledge, beliefs, preferences, and emotions. They can make different choices and carry out different actions.

    In other words, they give every sign of being two distinct minds. Why would you claim that they share a single soul?

  186. 186
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi Keith,

    My point about the processing of visual and auditory data was that it is NOT processed for people who are both blind and deaf. Remember how you said that deafness and blindness is a problem if we truly have an immaterial soul because the immaterial soul should still be able to see and hear? That kind of thinking is based on the notion that an immaterial soul would be capable of doing a better job than the brain does. You are applying the exact same kind of thinking when you say that the immaterial soul should be able to unite two physically separated hemispheres… despite the fact that the brain itself cannot.

    A unified soul would NOT be able to combine knowledge from both hemispheres if the brain itself cannot. Just as a unified soul would NOT be able to see and hear if the brain itself cannot.

    Furthermore, you are extrapolating from isolated incidents of self-contradictory behaviour – which, no matter how extreme or simultaneous, is not beyond the realm of human experience – to entirely separate identities, each with their own “knowledge, belief, desire, communication, and choice”: there is a huge gap between the evidence you cite and the conclusions you draw from it. Indeed, if it wasn’t for the fact that brains had actually been split in the examples you provide, we wouldn’t give them a second look… such is the familiarity of (even simultaneous) self-contradictory behaviour in humans (for a wide variety of reasons).

    The logic of your argument is itself flawed. Consider the blind spot in an eye. Cover one eye and the blind spot can be detected in the other eye. That’s because the other eye cannot see it. Two observers in one skull? No. And yet you are applying this very logic when you talk about one hemisphere being kept in the dark. You would say there ARE two observers in one skull. Clearly, that is illogical.

    And you should hardly be surprised that split-brain patients have to work a bit harder at getting their hemispheres to co-operate with each other (ie. “have to do that voluntarily”)… they’ve had their brain split into two, that’s pretty severe stuff!

    You are begging the question when you assign self-contradictory beliefs to the hemispheres. Immaterial souls can, and do, hold self-contradictory beliefs: with or without split brains. The atheistic denial of true free-will (what you call “libertarian free-will”) is a perfect example of this. Normal people really do simultaneously act on different impulses (not just with two different limbs… but the same limb! Remember the shooting/crossing football player? Do you really believe footballers have two material souls?)

    Speaking of free-will: is a mass-murderer to blame (ie. in ownership of, and truly responsible) for his actions or do we just blame it on the universe for creating the opportunity and determining his drives and motives?

  187. 187
    Joe says:

    strawman:

    Suppose someone makes the claim that you and I share the same soul. We demur, pointing out that we have different knowledge, different beliefs, different preferences, different emotions. We make different choices and carry out different actions. If the soul is responsible for those things, we obviously do not share the same soul.

    The soul isn’t responsible for those things. As I have been telling you, you don’t know what the soul is nor what it does.

  188. 188
    Querius says:

    Keiths,

    Please don’t dodge the question:

    Why you think that the fact that we can have significant conflicts within our personality (i.e. soul), as demonstrated by your left-right brain examples of brain-damaged individuals, disproves the existence of a non-material soul.

    I’ll respond your other questions after you answer mine.

    Thanks.

  189. 189
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    You apparently haven’t figured out that my questions are intended to answer your question. Let me make it more explicit.

    The kinds of “significant conflicts” that we see between the hemispheres of a split-brain patient are not the kinds of conflicts we see within the personality of a normal subject.

    You won’t see a normal person attacking someone with one arm and defending her with the other, or buttoning up a shirt with one hand while simultaneously unbuttoning it with the other, or trying to light a cigarette with one hand while the other hand plucks it out and throws it away.

    In a normal person, you don’t find that information presented to one hemisphere is completely unknown to the other. You don’t find a person indicating with one hand that he is an atheist and with the other hand indicating that he is a theist.

    These are bizarre phenomena that we do not see in normal people.

    Yet we’re not at all surprised to see two separate people exhibiting similar conflicts. One person believes X, the other person believes Y? No surprise. One person attacks someone, the other person defends her? Sure. One person knows something that the other person doesn’t know? You bet.

    All of those phenomena are what you would expect to see if you were dealing with two separate people. None of them are what you would expect if you were dealing with a single normal person.

    Split-brain patients are two minds sharing a single body.

    Now, why did I pose the questions about a soul being shared between two people? It’s because you are suggesting that the kinds of inter-hemisphere conflicts exhibited by split-brain patients are compatible with the existence of a single soul. But if that were correct, then the kinds of conflicts we see between two separate people would also be compatible with the existence of a single soul shared between the two people.

    I somehow doubt that you are willing to seriously entertain the possibility that you and I share a soul. If so, then how can you seriously entertain that possibility when the two hemispheres of a split-brain patient exhibit similar conflicts?

  190. 190
    keiths says:

    Chris Doyle:

    My point about the processing of visual and auditory data was that it is NOT processed for people who are both blind and deaf. Remember how you said that deafness and blindness is a problem if we truly have an immaterial soul because the immaterial soul should still be able to see and hear?

    Yes, but recall the context of my statement:

    Yes, I think blindness and deafness present a problem, at least for those who think the soul is capable of seeing and hearing independently of the body. This would include people who believe that the soul leaves the body during near-death experiences and other out-of-body experiences, but that it can still see and hear while it does so.

    In fact, it’s a mystery to me why those people think we even need eyes and ears, if our souls can do the sensory jobs by themselves.

    Chris:

    A unified soul would NOT be able to combine knowledge from both hemispheres if the brain itself cannot. Just as a unified soul would NOT be able to see and hear if the brain itself cannot.

    First, many theists would disagree with you. Google “blind NDE.”

    Second, your statement doesn’t make sense if the soul is the entity that knows, believes, wants, chooses, and acts.

    Here are a couple of questions:

    1. In the case of the man who attacked his wife with one arm and defended her with the other, what did the soul want to do? Is the soul guilty of attacking her? Does the soul get credit for defending her?

    2. If the right hemisphere knows something that the left hemisphere doesn’t, then does the soul know it? What if it’s the other way around, with the left hemisphere knowing something that the right hemisphere doesn’t?

    3. In the case of the patient whose left hemisphere didn’t believe in God but whose right hemisphere did, what did the soul believe? Was the soul a theist or an atheist?

    The obvious answer is that the soul doesn’t exist, and that after the brain is split there are two minds in one skull. One of the minds wants to attack the wife; the other mind wants to defend her. One mind knows something; the other doesn’t. One mind is a theist; the other is an atheist.

    It’s really quite obvious and straightforward.

    The reason you are resisting, I suspect, is not because the evidence is weak. To the contrary, it’s extremely strong. I think you are resisting because you are emotionally invested in the idea of an immaterial soul. Instead of asking yourself “What hypothesis fits the data best?”, you are in effect asking yourself “How do I need to interpret this evidence in order to hang on to my belief in the soul? It would really be upsetting to me if I had to give it up.”

    I can sympathize. I used to be a believer, and I used to believe in the soul and in eternal life after death. It was wrenching to me when I realized that the soul didn’t exist. It was literally a physically sickening feeling. I felt upset and unsettled, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. But the evidence was overwhelming, and I couldn’t deny it.

    I came to grips with it over time, and you can too, but it takes courage and a willingness to pursue the truth, even if the truth turns out to be disappointing in some respects.

  191. 191
    Chris Doyle says:

    Keith, I am a very fortunate soul and truly blessed. But, if I was a convinced atheist, I’d be leading an altogether different existence, using what I’ve got to maximise my pleasure and realise my self-interest in ways that most people can only dream of. I wouldn’t feel upset and unsettled: on the contrary I’d have a great time with my liberation! I certainly wouldn’t waste a second of my precious time debating with believers. Not unless I had serious doubts about the truth of atheism… you and your fellow internet atheists (especially the ones who are familiar with Intelligent Design science) know exactly what I’m talking about here.

    Any argument which depends on dodgy theology (ie. the immaterial soul should be able to see and hear, even if the brain can’t) is obviously false and not remotely persuasive. And you keep going on about simultaneous self-contradictory behaviour as if it is new and “extremely strong” evidence. Well, it is neither. As you have not made a serious attempt to address my previous post, I’m happy to leave it there until you do.

  192. 192
    keiths says:

    Chris,

    I’m very curious about how you would answer the three numbered questions I asked in my last comment.

    Would you be willing to answer them?

  193. 193
    Chris Doyle says:

    When you respond to post 186!

  194. 194

    CD:

    Keith, I am a very fortunate soul and truly blessed. But, if I was a convinced atheist, I’d be leading an altogether different existence, using what I’ve got to maximise my pleasure and realise my self-interest in ways that most people can only dream of.

    But I know many atheists who do NOT live such lives – who, on the contrary, devote their lives to the welfare of others.

    How, in your view, is this possible?

  195. 195
    keiths says:

    Chris,

    Okay.

    I already responded to the first part here.

    Continuing:

    Furthermore, you are extrapolating from isolated incidents of self-contradictory behaviour…

    No, these are reproducible, over and over, in the lab. They are not isolated incidents at all.

    – which, no matter how extreme or simultaneous, is not beyond the realm of human experience –

    Have you ever seen someone attack a person with one arm and defend her with the other? Attempt to light a cigarette with one hand and simultaneously pluck it out and throw it away with the other? Have you ever seen someone who, when asked a question, could point to the correct answer with one hand, but not the other?

    I have never seen any of these things (except on video), and I’m willing to bet that you haven’t either. These things can’t be brushed off. The evidence demands an explanation, and the immaterial soul doesn’t cut it.

    there is a huge gap between the evidence you cite and the conclusions you draw from it. Indeed, if it wasn’t for the fact that brains had actually been split in the examples you provide, we wouldn’t give them a second look…

    You can’t be serious. If we saw those things we would look, and look, and look again. They are so bizarre that we would be transfixed. Have you watched the videos? They are so bizarre and so eerie, they give me the chills.

    The logic of your argument is itself flawed. Consider the blind spot in an eye. Cover one eye and the blind spot can be detected in the other eye. That’s because the other eye cannot see it. Two observers in one skull? No. And yet you are applying this very logic when you talk about one hemisphere being kept in the dark. You would say there ARE two observers in one skull. Clearly, that is illogical.

    Information from both eyes goes to both hemispheres, Chris, even in split-brain patients, so I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here. Regardless, in split-brain patients we have one hemisphere knowing things that the other hemisphere doesn’t! How do you explain that if there is a single soul that does the knowing? It makes no sense.

    And you should hardly be surprised that split-brain patients have to work a bit harder at getting their hemispheres to co-operate with each other (ie. “have to do that voluntarily”)… they’ve had their brain split into two, that’s pretty severe stuff!

    Do you think the soul “talks” only to one hemisphere? If it talks to both, the hemispheres should always agree on what they are trying to accomplish. Why would one hemisphere try to light a cigarette while the other hemisphere throws the cigarette away? Does the soul want to smoke, or not?

    Normal people really do simultaneously act on different impulses (not just with two different limbs… but the same limb!

    Not the way split-brain patients do. Have you ever seen someone button up a shirt with one hand while unbuttoning it with the other? In such a case, does the soul want to wear the shirt or not? It makes no sense with a single soul, but it makes complete sense when you recognize that there are two minds in the same skull, with one mind controlling each hand.

    Speaking of free-will: is a mass-murderer to blame (ie. in ownership of, and truly responsible) for his actions or do we just blame it on the universe for creating the opportunity and determining his drives and motives?

    I’d be happy to discuss that with you, but it’s a topic for another thread. Let’s stick to the soul and split-brain patients here.

    Look, Chris, when you’ve believed in an immaterial soul for years and years, this stuff is scary. Take it from me — I’ve been there. It’s like having the floor drop out from underneath you. Give it time, and keep thinking about it. This stuff is too important to take for granted; you have to really think about it and force yourself to be honest with yourself.

  196. 196
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi Lizzie,

    The short answer (and I know you won’t like it!) is most atheists are stupid. They don’t realise the consequences of a Godless universe.

    The longer answer: atheists who devote their lives to the welfare of others do so because theistic morality runs true and deep, certainly buried in the heart and mind from an early age and, theologically speaking, etched on the immaterial soul itself before birth.

    And this is another great example of simultaneous self-contradictory behaviour in humans: atheists who bother to be moral when there is no such thing as good and evil, no such thing as free-will even! Far more serious and significant than a guy buttoning and unbuttoning himself at the same time.

    According to Keith’s logic, that would mean all morally good atheists have two souls: one soul that thinks it needs to lead a moral life, the other soul that knows there is no such thing as morality.

  197. 197

    hi Chri:

    Hi Lizzie,

    The short answer (and I know you won’t like it!) is most atheists are stupid. They don’t realise the consequences of a Godless universe.

    I agree that that that is one possibility, but it doesn’t seem to fit the evidence very well. The people I am thinking of are some of the least stupid people I know.

    The longer answer: atheists who devote their lives to the welfare of others do so because theistic morality runs true and deep, certainly buried in the heart and mind from an early age and, theologically speaking, etched on the immaterial soul itself before birth.

    That makes more sense to me. But in that case, why the adjective “theistics”? Why not just say “morality runs true and deep” in human beings?

    And this is another great example of simultaneous self-contradictory behaviour in humans: atheists who bother to be moral when there is no such thing as good and evil, no such thing as free-will even! Far more serious and significant than a guy buttoning and unbuttoning himself at the same time.

    But atheists don’t think that. Or most don’t. Most atheists do think there is good and evil, and that we should do the good thing, rather than the evil thing. They also tend to think that the good thing is the thing that takes into account the welfare of others. So there’s nothing contradictory about it. The main difference is that the do good because it’s right to do good, not because of fear of eternal consequences.

    As Mark Twain puts it in Huckleberry Finn:

    I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn’t do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking- thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me, all the time; in the day, and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a floating along, talking, and singing, and laughing. But somehow I couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I’d see him standing my watch on top of his’n, stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him agin in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me, and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had smallpox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the only one he’s got now; and then I happened to look around, and see that paper.

    It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:”All right, then, I’ll go to hell”- and tore it up.

    According to Keith’s logic, that would mean all morally good atheists have two souls: one soul that thinks it needs to lead a moral life, the other soul that knows there is no such thing as morality.

    Chris again:

    According to Keith’s logic, that would mean all morally good atheists have two souls: one soul that thinks it needs to lead a moral life, the other soul that knows there is no such thing as morality.

    Atheists don’t generally think that there is no such thing as morality.

  198. 198

    Keiths:

    Information from both eyes goes to both hemispheres, Chris, even in split-brain patients,

    Depends on just what is severed. What is true is that information from both hemifields (left and right fields of vision) go to both hemispheres, because each eye sees to both left and right, although the nose gets a little in the way.

    And because the cc is not the only connection path, some information may also go to both hemispheres via the superior colliculus (the pathway that is preserved in “blindsight”). But if you present information only to the right hemifield, in a fully split brain patient, only the left hemisphere will receive it, which is how it is possible to ask questions of each hemisphere separately. Same with auditory input.

    They really are more like the Hensel twins than a single person! In fact less like, because less alike.

  199. 199
    Chris Doyle says:

    Thanks Keith.

    However, you glossed over a couple of points in that first part and they need to be addressed properly. Specifically, on what grounds, theological or otherwise, do you maintain that the immaterial soul would be able to combine knowledge from both hemispheres if the brain itself cannot? Additionally, why would you expect the immaterial soul to see and hear things (“in-the-body”) if the brain itself cannot?
    Now, on to the rest of your response. They are isolated incidents if the split-brain patient in question leads an otherwise relatively “normal” life (mainly because they are not having their hemispheres isolated in a lab). This is the point about the blind spot in the eye. Just because you can reproduce it, over and over, doesn’t mean it is not isolated… most of the time, we have both eyes open and so the blind spot is not an issue.

    What you’re doing is saying, “look what happens when you close one eye, all of a sudden bits of the world disappear in the blind spot. Open that eye and close the other and, different bits of the world disappear: two different sets of conflicting visual data therefore two different observers!”

    Unconvincing, to say the least.

    I’ve never seen someone attack a person with one arm and defend her with the other, but I have seen a footballer try to cross and shoot with the same leg at the same time. It happens regularly. I’ve also seen “normal” people light up a cigarette and pluck it out with the same hand. That’s not unusual either. This point has been made so many times now, so I won’t repeat it again: if simultaneous self-contradictory behaviour is all you’ve got to banish the immaterial soul, then you’ve got nothing. Please don’t recycle that argument again, it has been thoroughly refuted and you have not addressed that refutation.
    I’ve also seen crazy people who simply do not occupy the same level of existence as we do. Then I’ve seen “normal” people who can communicate with beings that do not occupy the same level of existence as we do. I’ve heard of people with multiple personalities and people who can be regressed through past lives. None of it is best explained by multiple material souls occupying the same body: not even multiple personalities or past lives (which surely provide better evidence for your claims than split-brain patients?).

    Bottom line: the mind is an amazing and powerful thing. It has the power to heal (placebo effect) and the power to kill (nocebo effect). Even the sanest person has got some serious issues rooted in his mind. Damaged and insane people can have completely scrambled minds: not even they know whether they are coming or going. So there is a vast, intricate and mostly mysterious spectrum of mental states. Why do people with split brains do strange things? Is it because:

    A. They’ve now got two material souls, or
    B. They’ve had their brain split into two so it doesn’t work the same way any more

    A is a wacky explanation that assumes that mind and brain are one and the same. They’re not.

  200. 200
    Chris Doyle says:

    On to your questions:

    1. In the case of the man who attacked his wife with one arm and defended her with the other, what did the soul want to do? Is the soul guilty of attacking her? Does the soul get credit for defending her?

    I don’t know what the soul wanted to do, but it may have wanted to do both at the same time. Come Judgment Day, God will decide whether or not the soul was right or wrong in that instant.

    2. If the right hemisphere knows something that the left hemisphere doesn’t, then does the soul know it? What if it’s the other way around, with the left hemisphere knowing something that the right hemisphere doesn’t?

    If the information in just one of the hemisphere is being relayed to the soul in a discernible and informative manner, then yes, it knows. Otherwise it doesn’t. Again, this comes back to the blind spot. Close one eye, and the blind spot makes a little part of the observable world invisible. Open that eye, close the other one, and a different little part of the observable world becomes invisible. The soul can only work with what it is given at the time.

    3. In the case of the patient whose left hemisphere didn’t believe in God but whose right hemisphere did, what did the soul believe? Was the soul a theist or an atheist?

    It was neither: it was an agnostic! Seriously, who knows? One soul can hold two completely contradictory beliefs, that’s for certain. Clearly, splitting the brain is a brutal way of demonstrating that fact, revealing two contradictory beliefs in glorious isolation of each other (whereas usually, self-contradiction is easier to conceal in a “normal” brain).

  201. 201
    Chris Doyle says:

    If they are moral atheists, Lizzie, they must still be pretty stupid. Or just exemplary free-riders: maintaining the outward appearance of morality whilst privately getting away with murder. But honestly, even smart people often make mistakes and miss the bleeding obvious. And without properly studying moral philosophy, they wouldn’t be very smart about morality anyway…

    And, I say “theistic morality” because “atheistic morality” is a joke: something you make up as you go along, pick and choose when you feel like and ignore when it is inconvenient. Theistic morality is the only true morality, just like “libertarian free-will” is the only true free-will. When atheists talk about morality and free-will, they aint worth a dime.

    As for atheists who still believe in good and evil, I refer you to my short answer in the previous post. In a Godless universe, there is no good and no evil. And even if there was, without free-will, you’ve got no say in the matter. The only true course for a dedicated atheist is a life of rational self-interest… and that involves a lot of pleasure and a lot of evil. After all, you only live once and, no matter how you live your life, once it ends, only oblivion awaits. For the convinced atheist, as long as they are as happy as can be, that’s all that matters… theistic – true – morality is an insurmountable obstacle as far as that goal is concerned.

  202. 202

    I don’t call it either “theistic” or “atheistic” morality, Chris.

    I suggest it doesn’t need an adjective at all.

    People, whether atheist or theist, behave morally, and by that, what they usually mean is what theists usually mean: treating other people as you would be treated yourself.

    The only difference is that atheists do it simply because they think it is right, whereas at least some theists claim that they do it because otherwise they will be punished.

    You seem to have taken a very narrow view of atheism (which simply means: having no belief in god or gods) in which atheism is only atheism if the person denies that there is such a thing as morality, or that we have any choice.

    The vast majority of atheists think that we are perfectly capable of choosing, and that there are good choices and evil choices.

    There is nothing “stupid” about this position.

    And the vast majority of atheist are no more selfish than any theist, in my experience. In fact, as I have said, two of the most kindly, selfless, and truly good people I have known are atheists. And neither are stupid.

  203. 203
    Joe says:

    Elizabeth:

    But I know many atheists who do NOT live such lives – who, on the contrary, devote their lives to the welfare of others.

    How, in your view, is this possible?

    Atheism is a ruse and people behave as they were designed to.

  204. 204
    Chris Doyle says:

    Theistic morality is universally true and objective. Atheistic morality changes like fashion and is subjective. The two are entirely different, easily distinguishable and certainly require adjectives. The mistake that you are making here, Lizzie, is one that many atheists make: when you talk about morality, you are actually talking about theistic morality. You wrongly dismiss as coincidence the fact that theistic morality happens to be the fashionably, subjectively acceptable kind of morality you are referring to.

    The all-important question is: why would an atheist want to be moral in the first place? The wrong answer is “because you’ve got to treat people as you would be treated yourself”. The truth is it is “better for people to treat you as they would be treated themselves… while you do what you like whenever you can get away with it” But that fact provides an atheist with reasons to be immoral, not moral.

    So, the question remains: why would an atheist want to be moral in the first place? Another wrong answer is: “because they think it is right”. Well, put that way, it just begs the question. Still, what is to stop them thinking it is wrong? Reason, for starters. If rational analysis was playing a role here then free-riding wins all day long.

    Incidentally, you can’t get a more narrow view of atheism than it “simply means: having no belief in god or gods”. The ramifications of a Godless universe are massive and unavoidable: no good, no evil, no meaning, no morality, no free will, no afterlife.

    How can an atheist be perfectly capable of choosing anything when there is no free-will? It’s not a choice, if you couldn’t choose any differently. If there is no objective morality, how can there be good and evil? Lizzie’s good is another man’s evil… and vice-versa. Why would an atheist make selfless sacrifices when they can enjoy selfish pursuits instead? If anything, theistic – true – morality is tantamount to self-harm when you are an atheist. Let’s be clear, the only time it makes sense for an atheist to be moral is when it is prudent to appear to be so, serving some other interest or avoiding certain punishment (although, only a punishment worth avoiding: not a lot of that going about any more). If atheists practice morality for any other reason, it is just plain stupid. It is equivalent to writing a letter to Father Christmas explaining how nice you’ve been this year and why you deserve that shiny new toy. Grow up! There is no Father Christmas. Just steal the toy when no-one else is looking…

  205. 205

    Chris

    Theistic morality is universally true and objective. Atheistic morality changes like fashion and is subjective. The two are entirely different, easily distinguishable and certainly require adjectives. The mistake that you are making here, Lizzie, is one that many atheists make: when you talk about morality, you are actually talking about theistic morality. You wrongly dismiss as coincidence the fact that theistic morality happens to be the fashionably, subjectively acceptable kind of morality you are referring to.

    OK, so tell me what theistic morality is, and how the current fashionable morality happens to resemble it.

    And can you tell me why a theist would want to be moral?

    These are serious questions, Chris, not rhetorical ones, by the way. I’d really like to know your answers.

  206. 206
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hang on, Lizzie. We were talking about moral atheists. I was explaining why atheistic morality doesn’t work and now you want to switch to theistic morality. I’m happy to discuss it, but not if it means changing the subject. Right now, that’s exactly what it would mean. Your explanation for atheistic morality was not persuasive, as I explained in my previous comment. Are you going to address those comments first? Or do you now agree that I was right from the beginning?

  207. 207

    It’s not a change of subject, Chris. You compared theistic morality with what you see as the currently fashionable atheistic morality, and said that at the moment they just happen to be similar, but atheistic morality can change, whereas theistic morality is universally true.

    So I’m interested in what aspects of what you think current atheistic morality shares with theistic morality.

    That seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable question.

    And without an answer to it, it’s hard for to address your comments on what you think atheistic morality is.

  208. 208
    Chris Doyle says:

    I beg to differ, Lizzie. I only made the comparison to highlight the great difference between atheistic morality and theistic morality (after you suggested there was no difference, and that the adjective should be dropped). What I will say is that atheists who claim to be moral will agree with the more obvious moral imperatives: no killing, no stealing, no lying, help the needy. If only they stopped to think about it, they’d realise that they are not actually impelled to resist any of these things if they can get away with it. Further, if it served their self-interest to actually do these things, then they should.
    What I think atheistic morality is, is actually what it is. What you think atheistic morality, is theistic morality in disguise (which is why it makes no sense coming from an atheist).

  209. 209
    Mark Frank says:

    Chris

    I also would be interested to know why you think a theist would want to be moral.

  210. 210
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi Mark, long time no speak. Hope you are well.

    You really want to know why a theist would want to be moral? Seems really obvious to me… anyway, let’s see how Lizzie gets on with atheistic morality first. I hate changing the subject just when the original subject gets interesting!

  211. 211

    Chris, it isn’t a change of subject. I’m not going to attempt to justify atheistic morality.

    What I do want to know is why a theist would want to be moral. I’d have thought it was for the same reason as an atheist would want to be moral, but you don’t.

    So to clarify things before we go any further, I would be grateful if you could say:

    1. why a theist would want to be moral (in your view)
    2. how a theist knows what the moral thing to do is (in your view)

  212. 212

    Chris:

    What I think atheistic morality is, is actually what it is. What you think atheistic morality, is theistic morality in disguise (which is why it makes no sense coming from an atheist).

    Sorry, missed this post.

    OK. Yes, that is William’s claim as well.

    And I understand that both of you think it “makes no sense coming from an atheist”.

    So what I’d like to know from you (because just as it seems obvious to you why it makes sense to a theist, it seems obvious to me why it makes sense to anyone, atheist or not) why, in your view, it makes sense to a theist, but not to an atheist.

  213. 213
    Chris Doyle says:

    You began the discussion, Lizzie, asking me how it was possible for atheists to lead moral lives. I said it was basically stupidity: not rejecting the theistic morality that had been ingrained from an early age. You then tried to offer other reasons, they didn’t work and now you’ve said “I’m not going to attempt to justify atheistic morality.”

    Frankly, that is because you can’t justify atheistic morality: no-one can. Why can’t you (or any other atheist), just admit that for once? And I mean an unqualified, unequivocal admission: atheistic morality fails full stop. If you do, then we need never talk about it again. After all, this is hardly the first time this discussion has taken place. And it’s not the first time it came to an end because you, or other atheists, tried to change the subject to theistic morality instead of admitting that there is no justification for atheistic morality.

    Once you admitted that, you would find me (and others like me) a whole lot more co-operative and willing to expand the discussion. Yes, you lose the point (and I’m way beyond point-scoring these days) but at least we can make some progress rather than going over the same ground again and again.

    If you refuse to admit that, on top of your refusal to discuss the matter further, then I can only think the worst. Any further discussion would be a waste of my time and probably yours too.

  214. 214
    Mark Frank says:

    Chris – at the risk of pulling the rug from under Lizzie (or more likely repeating what she has already said). Atheists (and many theists) are moral because they like people not to suffer, to flourish, to live, to be treated fairly etc. They are like everyone else moral for other reasons but this underpins all morality.

    As far as I can see the only alternative is to be moral for fear of the consequences of being found out. Do you have a third option?

  215. 215
    Chris Doyle says:

    They’re not like everyone else, Mark. Yes, when you “like” doing morality it’s all very easy. The acid test is what happens when you don’t “like” morality. In those circumstances, the rational atheist should just drop morality and do whatever it is he would “like” to do instead (and that will probably be immoral).

    That’s not an option for non-atheists.

  216. 216
    keiths says:

    keiths:

    Information from both eyes goes to both hemispheres, Chris, even in split-brain patients…

    Lizzie:

    Depends on just what is severed. What is true is that information from both hemifields (left and right fields of vision) go to both hemispheres, because each eye sees to both left and right, although the nose gets a little in the way.

    Lizzie,

    It’s the other way around. Information from each eye goes to both hemispheres, but information from the right hemifield only goes to the left hemisphere, and vice-versa. Don’t forget about the optic chiasm!

    That’s what makes it possible for experimenters to separately communicate with each hemisphere.

  217. 217

    Yes you are right! It’s what I meant, but not only said the wrong thing, read you wrong!

    And indeed, it’s what makes it possible for experimenters to separately communicate with each hemisphere! As you will note, my post is completely contradictory!

    I blame the residual effects of codeine….

    (Actually, not really: my PhD topic was exactly this and I seemed to spend half my life with my arms crossed over my head to remind myself of which stimulus presentation was going to which hemisphere, and even then, I’d have to be check to remind myself which side was left and which right!)

  218. 218

    Chris:

    You began the discussion, Lizzie, asking me how it was possible for atheists to lead moral lives. I said it was basically stupidity: not rejecting the theistic morality that had been ingrained from an early age. You then tried to offer other reasons, they didn’t work and now you’ve said “I’m not going to attempt to justify atheistic morality.”

    Actually, no, Chris. I didn’t ask you how it was possible for atheists to lead moral lives. I asked you how you thought it was possible for atheists to moral lives. You offered “stupidity” as one solution. I disagreed, as I know many extremely intelligent and extremely morally admirable atheist. Some were raised as Christians, others were not.

    I’ve already said why I think atheists behave morally – essentially because they think that it is good to treat others as you would be treated yourself, and evil to treat others badly in order to benefit yourself.

    What I would like to know is how a theist’s motivation (in your view) differs from this, and how a theist figures out what is good and what is evil.

    Frankly, that is because you can’t justify atheistic morality: no-one can. Why can’t you (or any other atheist), just admit that for once? And I mean an unqualified, unequivocal admission: atheistic morality fails full stop. If you do, then we need never talk about it again. After all, this is hardly the first time this discussion has taken place. And it’s not the first time it came to an end because you, or other atheists, tried to change the subject to theistic morality instead of admitting that there is no justification for atheistic morality.

    Because we don’t think that is the case, Chris. Most of us think it is self-evident that treating others as you would be treated is a good thing, simply because that way, all benefit, whereas treating others as merely there to give us pleasure, regardless of the harm they suffer, is evil.

    Conceivably that might be because of culturally transmitted wisdom about what makes a contented society; alternatively, or additionally, it might be because that’s the way we’ve evolved.

    Once you admitted that, you would find me (and others like me) a whole lot more co-operative and willing to expand the discussion. Yes, you lose the point (and I’m way beyond point-scoring these days) but at least we can make some progress rather than going over the same ground again and again.

    If you refuse to admit that, on top of your refusal to discuss the matter further, then I can only think the worst. Any further discussion would be a waste of my time and probably yours too.

    Frankly, Chris, this is cop-out. Your claim is that you have some objective morality that is not available to atheists, and which motivates you to do the right thing in a way that you think atheists cannot be motivated. I am asking you two simple questions to follow up your claim:

    1. What is the motivation for theists to do good rather than evil that is, according to you, lacking to atheists?
    2. How do you know, objectively, when an action is good, and when it is evil?

    To refuse to answer because I have not “admitted” something I am not persuaded of about atheism is sheer buck-passing. I am certainly happy to concede any point you think due, but I will not “admit” to something that I don’t understand, and I cannot understand it until I know what you mean – and that depends on your answers to my questions.

    If those questions are answerable – great! If they are not, then obviously I have a followup.

  219. 219

    Chris:

    They’re not like everyone else, Mark. Yes, when you “like” doing morality it’s all very easy. The acid test is what happens when you don’t “like” morality. In those circumstances, the rational atheist should just drop morality and do whatever it is he would “like” to do instead (and that will probably be immoral).

    Why should a rational atheist do this? Doing the right think is all to often not what we “like”, which is why we use the word “ought”. If it was, we would have no need for that word.

    What about my dear friend, who, rather than do what she “liked”, spent a precious decade of her life looking after her demented mother, knowing that what would be left of her own life would probably be spent declining into dementia herself? Which it was. She was a keen amateur musician, and many times gave up the opportunity to play music with her friends, so as to comfort her mother, who barely recognised her much of the time, and was difficult, and often resentful. And when her mother eventually died, my poor friend soon became unable to fully take part in those playing evening because of her own failing cognitive powers, of which she was only too well aware.

    And she was a life-long atheist, as was her mother. As she used to say: who could believe in a God who created Alzheimer’s?

    That’s not an option for non-atheists.

    Why not? And, I repeat, I ask this in all sincerity.

    Is it because you are fearful of judgment in the afterlife? Or something else?

  220. 220
    Chris Doyle says:

    Lizzie, to claim they’re not stupid because they’re smart is just weak. When smart people do stupid things, they are stupid. That’s not necessarily a sweeping assessment of every aspect of their lives, rather – in this case – a specific observation about their attitude towards morality. Smart people are capable of great stupidity, often because they know they’re smart about some things and aren’t humble enough to acknowledge that they are not smart about everything.

    As for your “do unto others” maxim, I already explained why that doesn’t work in post 204. You’ve just ignored that post and recycled a refuted argument. Not good, Lizzie and very tiresome.

    We can change the subject when you’ve actually addressed my arguments. I’m happy to leave it at that if you are unwilling or unable to.

  221. 221
    Chris Doyle says:

    Your friend did a great thing, Lizzie, and it will count in her favour when the Day of Reckoning arrives.

    But as she was a lifelong atheist, who nonetheless was brought up in a society still very warm from the Christian afterglow, she was very stupid to not find another solution which meant she could not enjoy herself more: after all, if you’re not having a lot of fun in your atheistic and meaningless existence, then you’d be better off with oblivion. Why delay the inevitable for a life of drudgery?

  222. 222

    Chris:

    Lizzie, to claim they’re not stupid because they’re smart is just weak. When smart people do stupid things, they are stupid. That’s not necessarily a sweeping assessment of every aspect of their lives, rather – in this case – a specific observation about their attitude towards morality. Smart people are capable of great stupidity, often because they know they’re smart about some things and aren’t humble enough to acknowledge that they are not smart about everything.

    Right, but when otherwise smart person does an apparently stupid thing, it should at least give cause for consideration whether perhaps she is seeing something that you aren’t.

    As for your “do unto others” maxim, I already explained why that doesn’t work in post 204. You’ve just ignored that post and recycled a refuted argument. Not good, Lizzie and very tiresome.

    You may find it tiresome, Chris, but you don’t consider the possibility that I did not ignored your post (I responded to it) but did not consider it a refutation, for reasons I gave. Nonetheless, I will attempt to respond to it in more detail here:

    You wrote:

    The all-important question is: why would an atheist want to be moral in the first place? The wrong answer is “because you’ve got to treat people as you would be treated yourself”. The truth is it is “better for people to treat you as they would be treated themselves… while you do what you like whenever you can get away with it” But that fact provides an atheist with reasons to be immoral, not moral.

    Not if the atheist values a just society, and the welfare of others. You are assuming that just because an atheist doesn’t believe in God, she has no value for anything except her own pleasure. This is a non sequitur.

    So, the question remains: why would an atheist want to be moral in the first place? Another wrong answer is: “because they think it is right”. Well, put that way, it just begs the question. Still, what is to stop them thinking it is wrong? Reason, for starters. If rational analysis was playing a role here then free-riding wins all day long.

    Not if you value the welfare of others.

    Incidentally, you can’t get a more narrow view of atheism than it “simply means: having no belief in god or gods”. The ramifications of a Godless universe are massive and unavoidable: no good, no evil, no meaning, no morality, no free will, no afterlife.

    No, those are not the ramifications of a Godless universe.

    How can an atheist be perfectly capable of choosing anything when there is no free-will? It’s not a choice, if you couldn’t choose any differently.

    True, and we do choose, therefore we have choice. We will those choices, and we object stenuously if we are forced to do something we have not chosen, against our will.

    If there is no objective morality, how can there be good and evil? Lizzie’s good is another man’s evil… and vice-versa.

    Well, I think there is a fairly objective morality, in that there are principles that we can come to independently that ensure the good of all. My good is not “another man’s[sic] evil”. Another person’s evil is my evil too. Why should I not suffer when another does?

    Why would an atheist make selfless sacrifices when they can enjoy selfish pursuits instead?

    Because they value the happiness of others.

    If anything, theistic – true – morality is tantamount to self-harm when you are an atheist.

    Not if you value what is good.

    Let’s be clear, the only time it makes sense for an atheist to be moral is when it is prudent to appear to be so, serving some other interest or avoiding certain punishment (although, only a punishment worth avoiding: not a lot of that going about any more). If atheists practice morality for any other reason, it is just plain stupid. It is equivalent to writing a letter to Father Christmas explaining how nice you’ve been this year and why you deserve that shiny new toy. Grow up! There is no Father Christmas. Just steal the toy when no-one else is looking…

    Why? Then another child would be deprived of the toy.

    Back to your post:

    We can change the subject when you’ve actually addressed my arguments. I’m happy to leave it at that if you are unwilling or unable to.

    I’m both willing and able, Chris. The fact that you can’t see why an atheist would value the happiness of others is not the fault of my argument.

    And your refusal to say why you would behave well, is, well, odd. Your implication is that you fear ultimate punishment, which we don’t. Is that it?

    It’s a simple enough question.

    And the other one remains on the table: how do you determine what is good, objectively, as a theist? How do you know what God wants?

  223. 223

    Chris:

    Your friend did a great thing, Lizzie, and it will count in her favour when the Day of Reckoning arrives.

    And will it count more in her favour than if she had done because of fear of that Day of Reckoning? I would say so. It seems to me that an atheist who does good simply because she values good is doing something much more truly moral than someone who does good simply because of fear of some ultimate Day of Reckoning.

    Not that I think anyone actually behaves like that. We do good because we value other people’s welfare. A few people don’t, which is why we have laws and punishment, but most people simply find other people’s welfare as valuable as their own.

    I’m sure, you, Chris, like Huck Finn, faced with betraying your friend or going to hell, would choose hell.

    But as she was a lifelong atheist, who nonetheless was brought up in a society still very warm from the Christian afterglow, she was very stupid to not find another solution which meant she could not enjoy herself more: after all, if you’re not having a lot of fun in your atheistic and meaningless existence, then you’d be better off with oblivion. Why delay the inevitable for a life of drudgery?

    Because she loved her mother.

  224. 224

    So let me try and summarise, Chris:

    If the only reason a person would ever do anything unselfish was because of fear of personal punishment, or hope of personal reward, as I see it, there wouldn’t be a great deal of merit in being unselfish. But at least people would behave better than if they didn’t have that ultimate expectation of a Day of Reckoning

    And that seems to be your view of humanity. Under that view, sure, atheism takes away the only conceivable rational motive for selfless behaviour. Although it would be complicated for those that did.

    But let me propose something different:

    That people, for various reasons, including their biology and the culturally inherited accumulated experience of humanity in trying to live in peaceful and prosperous societies, actually value the welfare of others.

    If so, it takes no promise of eternal reward (or threat of damnation) to motivate them to want to help others, even at the expense of their own immediate or future narrow benefit.

    It is perfectly rational for an atheist to be prepared to forego a much valued evening of amateur chamber music to look after her demented mother, as long as looking her mother’s welfare is something she values, which it is.

    And we are, as human beings, I suggest, self-evidently perfectly capable of valuing things that we have to sacrifice our immediate desires to achieve. That is why we have the word “ought”. That is why we have morality, in my view – because we are capable of choosing not simply what we want, now, but weighing that up against the greater value we put on life beyond ourselves.

    In other words: if we human beings are capable only of acting in the interests of others if we know it will ultimately rebound on us if we don’t, then, yes, your point of view makes depressing sense.

    But I don’t accept that premise. And that is why we differ.

  225. 225
    Querius says:

    Keiths,

    You’re still dodging the question:

    Why you think that the fact that we can have significant conflicts within our personality (i.e. soul), as demonstrated by your left-right brain examples of brain-damaged individuals, disproves the existence of a non-material soul.

    You’re giving me the impression that all you do is raise new issues when you can’t or won’t answer a previous one.

    Your “sharing consciousness” question is irrelevant because it contains a presupposition that, contrary to scientific evidence, conflicting motivations cannot exist in a single personality. Thus, your reasoning is circular.

    Assuming that I ask a similar question that you can’t or won’t answer about consciousness, I’d anticipate that you’ll dodge that too and simply bring up additional issues such as

    * “Yeah, but what about animal consciousness?”

    * “Yeah, but what about communal consciousness in colonial animals such as ants?”

    * “Yeah, but what about conflicted motivations in animals that do not have separate brain structures?”

    * “Yeah, but is a soul (personality) necessary for consciousness?”

    * “Yeah, but how can you be certain that computers do not have consciousness?”

    The list is practically endless, and you’ll assert that every one of these questions is, in turn, absolutely vital to the original issue, and will provide The Answer to my original question with such stunning brilliance that everyone will acknowledge whatever it is that you’re after.

    See, I can play, too. 😉 Ask yourself why you’re doing this.

  226. 226
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    Some advice: As a debate tactic, complaining that your opponent is dodging your questions tends to work well only if the person really is dodging your questions.

    My previous comment answers your question.

    If you have specific follow-up questions, let’s hear them.

    Your “sharing consciousness” question is irrelevant because it contains a presupposition that, contrary to scientific evidence, conflicting motivations cannot exist in a single personality. Thus, your reasoning is circular.

    No. As my previous comment explained:

    The kinds of “significant conflicts” that we see between the hemispheres of a split-brain patient are not the kinds of conflicts we see within the personality of a normal subject.

    You won’t see a normal person attacking someone with one arm and defending her with the other, or buttoning up a shirt with one hand while simultaneously unbuttoning it with the other, or trying to light a cigarette with one hand while the other hand plucks it out and throws it away.

    In a normal person, you don’t find that information presented to one hemisphere is completely unknown to the other. You don’t find a person indicating with one hand that he is an atheist and with the other hand indicating that he is a theist.

    These are bizarre phenomena that we do not see in normal people.

  227. 227
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    The list is practically endless, and you’ll assert that every one of these questions is, in turn, absolutely vital to the original issue, and will provide The Answer to my original question with such stunning brilliance that everyone will acknowledge whatever it is that you’re after.

    Do try to restrain yourself a bit and respond to what I actually write, rather than what your untethered imagination tells you I’ll write.

  228. 228
    Mark Frank says:

    Chris Doyle #215

    They’re not like everyone else, Mark. Yes, when you “like” doing morality it’s all very easy. The acid test is what happens when you don’t “like” morality. In those circumstances, the rational atheist should just drop morality and do whatever it is he would “like” to do instead (and that will probably be immoral).

    Chris there are different types of liking. I really want to give money to relieve starvation among children in Africa. It distresses me that they are suffering so much. I also really want to spend my money on a nice holiday for my family. Two types of liking and a genuine conflict of motives. Nothing easy about that.

    Now I have explained why atheists act morally. You may not like the explanation but I have done my best. Are you going to explain why a theist acts morally (forgive me if you have done so somewhere in the many responses to Lizzie)?

  229. 229
    keiths says:

    Chris,

    The crux of our disagreement is whether the split-brain phenomena we’ve been discussing make more sense in terms of a unified immaterial soul or in terms of two minds in one skull.

    I asked you three questions which you tried to answer in terms of an immaterial soul. To two of them you answered “I don’t know”, because they simply don’t make sense in terms of the soul. The third one you answered, but your answer doesn’t make sense (as I’ll explain later).

    Meanwhile, all of the questions can be easily answered if there isn’t a soul, and all of the phenomena can be easily explained as well. They make perfect sense if there is no soul.

    Why would you prefer a model that doesn’t make sense to one that makes perfect sense? Apart from your religious preconceptions, there is no reason to cling to a belief in the soul.

  230. 230
    keiths says:

    An explicit argument against the immaterial soul.

    Assume that:

    1. There is an immaterial soul.
    2. The immaterial soul is the seat of knowledge.
    3. The immaterial soul is the seat of the will.
    4. The immaterial soul initiates voluntary actions.
    4. The immaterial soul receives information from both hemispheres.
    5. The immaterial soul sends commands to both hemispheres.

    If you disagree with any of these assumptions, I can modify the argument accordingly, but these seem pretty standard among people who believe in a soul.

    Now assume that we have a normal subject with an intact brain. The subject stares at a screen. We briefly flash the word “dog” on the right side of the screen. We then ask the subject to use his left hand to point to a matching image (with several images to choose from). The subject points to a drawing of a dog.

    This makes sense in terms of the soul. The information goes into the brain, then to the soul. The soul knows it has seen a dog. The soul hears the instructions to point to a matching drawing with the left hand. The soul sees the drawings, recognizes that one of them is a dog, and decides to point to it. It sends a command to the brain, which causes the left arm to move and point to the dog drawing.

    Now run the same experiment on a split-brain patient. The word “dog” is flashed on the right side of the screen, which means the information goes only to the left hemisphere. The left hemisphere communicates that information to the soul, which now knows that it saw the word “dog”. Since the soul knows that it has seen the word “dog”, the soul can easily select the drawing of the dog. It sends a command to the brain and causes the left arm to move and point to the dog drawing.

    Right? Wrong. That’s what should happen if there is a soul, but it’s not what actually happens. What actually happens is that the patient gets the wrong answer when pointing with the left hand. If you ask him to point with the right hand, however, he correctly points to the dog.

    This makes absolutely no sense in terms of the soul. The soul has to make the decision to point to the dog, which means that the soul must know that the word “dog” was flashed on the screen. But if the soul knows that, then it should be able to instruct either hand to point to the dog drawing. This doesn’t happen.

    Now look at these results in terms of the “two minds in one skull” hypothesis. The word “dog” is flashed only on the right side of the screen, so only the left hemisphere sees it. The left hemisphere controls the right arm, so the subject can correctly point to the dog drawing with the right hand. However, if you ask the subject to point to the correct drawing with the left hand, he can’t do it. Why? Because the left hand is controlled by the right hemisphere, and the right hemisphere didn’t see the word “dog”. The right hemisphere doesn’t know what to point to, but the left hemisphere does.

    The results make perfect sense in terms of “two minds in one skull.” They make no sense at all in terms of the soul.

    The evidence is unambiguous. The “two minds in one skull” hypothesis wins hands down.

    In the face of this kind of evidence (and this is just one piece — there are many others), there is no rational reason to continue believing in the immaterial soul.

  231. 231
    Chris Doyle says:

    Morning Lizzie,

    Thanks for the responses. Let’s drive straight in before the sun is really shining!

    So, there are a couple of questions floating about:

    1. Are your smart atheistic friends stupid when it comes to morality?
    2. Why should an atheist bother to be moral in the first place?

    If you successfully answer the second question, then your friends would be smart about morality. If you can’t – in the absence of any other explanation from them – then we can conclude your friends are being stupid about morality.

    So, let’s list the reasons you provided for an atheist to be moral:

    1. They value a just society
    2. They value the welfare/happiness of others/they suffer when others suffer/they love others
    3. They ought not to value their own pleasure to the exclusion of anything else
    4. They value what is good

    I’m pretty sure that covers everything you have to say about the reasons why an atheist is moral. I’m sure you’ll highlight anything I’ve missed.

    So, assuming an atheist values a just society, does that give them reason to be moral? Well, sometimes – when it is prudent to appear to be moral, when:

    a. getting caught doing something immoral is likely AND
    b. will result in a punishment that is not worth bearing

    If only one of those conditions is met, or if neither of them are met, then this prudency can be set aside and they can act immorally, reaping the rewards that brings. This is, of course, free-riding. An atheist can value a just society and be a free-rider: that is perfectly reasonable, in fact, the most reasonable course of action. Realistically, they live in a society of people who are following theistic morality so, are not free-riders, never will become free-riders, and will always serve and protect a just society.

    But, it also raises the question, why should an atheist value a just society in the first place? In an unjust society, the powerful elite have a great time. As long as you can occupy a position at the top, then an unjust society is preferable to a just one.

    So, it cannot be assumed that all atheists value a just society in the first place. But, even if all atheist do value a just society, that is only enough to be moral when it is prudent to do so. Increasingly, prudence is less pressing.

    Maybe, the first reason can be re-inforced by the second reason which was expressed in various different ways but amounted to atheists care deeply about others. Now, straight away, this would need to apply to absolutely everyone they had any moral dealings with. Because, if it didn’t, it would cease to be an effective moral sanction and then anything goes. Secondly, we need to ask, how big is the circle of people that atheists care deeply for? I mean, in the real world, people usually care deeply about their nearest and dearest, friends, family, loved ones. But beyond that? Strangers, especially annoying strangers? No: there is no deep care there. And why should there be? The reality is, at least 99.9999% of people do not occupy the circle of people that atheists care deeply for.

    This whole notion of caring deeply for others is actually quite suspect if atheism is true. Caring deeply for others is often very hard work. Sure, help out when it is easy. Even, make painful sacrifices for those lucky people in your circle. But make painful sacrifices for the 99.9999% people outside of the circle when you don’t truly care for them? Why? There is no reason to do that. This is your one and only existence. You’re going to spend it sacrificing your pleasure to give people you don’t care for pleasure, when you can safely ignore them and really enjoy this brief existence? Of course not. And, look around the world: atheists just don’t behave that way anyway.

    Which brings us onto the third reason: atheists ought not to value their own pleasure to the exclusion of anything else. There is one situation when this is true: atheists ought not to value their own pleasure if it is detrimental to their own self-interest. Now, clearly pleasure is often (but not always) gained when you bring pleasure to the people in your circle of care. But, that is ultimately self-serving: why do you make someone else who you deeply care for happy? As Karen Carpenter said, “I feel glad when you’re glad”. Because it makes you happy… and reinforces the bond of care. The same is true of painful sacrifice for those you deeply care about. As Karen Carpenter said, “I feel sad when you’re sad.” If making the painful sacrifice removes the sadness, then that is ultimately self-serving too.

    So, other than self-interest and otherwise self-serving factors, why should an atheist not value their own pleasure to the exclusion of anything else? There is no reason: at least, not one that Lizzie provides. And, no doubt, if Lizzie did come up with a reason it would be entirely subjective and so wholly unreliable. What could Lizzie even say to an atheist who said he values his own pleasure to the exclusion of anything else? Especially when he is right, and she is wrong!

    Finally, Lizzie claims that atheists are moral because they value what is good. Well, this is plainly nonsense. Aside from the fact that there is no such thing as good in an atheistic universe, there is no such thing as objective morality in an atheistic universe. Lizzie’s good is another man’s evil and Lizzie’s evil is another man’s good. (yeah, yeah, [SIC] [SIC]… get over it!] When there is moral disagreement, who is Lizzie – or any other atheist – to say what is the right moral answer and what is the wrong one? Answer: they are nobody, lacking any moral authority whatsoever. It’s all just a matter of fashionable opinion for atheists. Even if all atheists all reach a moral consensus, this still does not represent moral authority, nor does it arrive at what is good. Even if it did, you cannot have morality without free-will. Only a truly free will – one that is not pre-determined by environmental factors and the physical properties of your brain, one that truly freely choose one way or the other without any dependency on the physical world – only true free will can be judged in terms of good and evil.

    And what happens if an atheist values what is bad (according to the subjective moral standards of Lizzie anyway)? The chances are, in an atheistic universe, he is more right and more rational than Lizzie anyway!

    So, Lizzie has given us everything she has got – nothing new by the way, we’ve been over this ground several times before and reached the same conclusion – and it turns out to be a complete and utter failure for morality. Yes, the people we care deeply about may benefit from isolated and highly exclusive moral acts. But then again, they might not. Even loved ones get cut off. In the culture of the Self that is developing all around us, increasing numbers of people deeply care only about themselves. For every atheist that makes painful sacrifices for their sick parents, there are at least as many that leave them to rot in dodgy homes. And not one single atheist can morally condemn that behaviour. As for needs of the 99.9999% of people that atheists don’t deeply care about… well, who cares? And, more importantly as far as this discussion is concerned: how can any atheist blame another one for not deeply caring?

    And, of course, atheistic free-riders are immune from criticism from moral atheists… while moral atheists are highly vulnerable to the criticism of atheistic free-riders.

    We can now answer the two questions at the start:

    1. Are your smart atheistic friends stupid when it comes to morality? Yes, if they are not free-riding. No, if they are free-riding.

    2. Why should an atheist bother to be moral in the first place? Don’t bother. Even loved ones are a drag: embrace the culture of the Self and take care of number one. You’ll have a great time, heading to your inevitable oblivion in a blaze of pleasurable, guilt-free, self-serving, glory.

    Are you finally ready to unequivocally admit that I’m right about atheistic morality, Lizzie? Can you now see how subjective and weak your reasons are? It’s simply no good looking at yourself and saying “well, I’m a moral atheist”. It’s no good looking at atheistic friends and saying “well, they’re moral atheists”. It is indisputable that people behave irrationally and many moral atheists are doing just that by not rejecting the theistic morality that they were brought up with (even with atheistic parents, they nonetheless grew up in a society with influential institutions that were still heavily influenced by theistic morality… as did their atheistic parents who would have been even more heavily influenced by theistic morality in their upbringing). No, in order for atheistic morality to be successful, you need to be able to provide sound reasons that effectively legislate and prescribe the behaviour of all atheists, all the time with everyone: unconditionally. Most of your reasons were framed conditionally (ie. “Not if you value a just society”) that fact alone undermines your entire case for moral atheism.

    You’ve already admitted there is no true free-will and that atheistic free-riders are rational. These are MASSIVE admissions so the hard work has been done. One final step:

    Atheistic morality fails full stop.
    And then we need never talk about atheistic morality again. Instead, we can clear up all your misconceptions about theistic morality. That is the only true morality, the one that works and for all the right reasons. Reasons that stand up to all scrutiny and remain wholly intact. But I’m not going to waste my time going there if you are going to be too stubborn to admit that atheistic morality fails. Especially when your reasons for clinging to atheistic morality are so, so poor.

  232. 232
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi Mark, have you ever given up a holiday so that you could give the money to the starving children of Africa? If so, massive respect to you, you’re a better man than me. But why did you do it? If not, then I don’t see your point.

    Just posted (231) a nice long entry to Lizzie, I know you don’t like long posts so probably won’t read it. But if you did, you would see that the reasons Lizzie provides for atheistic morality fail spectacularly. It’s not that I don’t like them: they simply don’t work.

    If Lizzie unequivocally admits that atheistic morality fails (following BIG admissions that atheistic free-riding is rational and denying true free-will) then we can talk about theistic morality. To be honest with you, I can’t wait to talk about it: I’m sincerely sick and tired of flogging the dead horse that is atheistic morality! But, in the absence of this admission from Lizzie, I will correctly conclude that she is being intellectually dishonest… and I’m not willing to waste any more time dealing with intellectual dishonesty.

  233. 233
    Chris Doyle says:

    Keith, I answered I don’t know because the only way you can know is if you have you brain-split. Anything else is agenda-driven speculation. I’ve already given many reasons why split brains do not present a problem for the immaterial soul. I won’t be repeating them.

  234. 234

    Chris, thanks for your long response, but…

    I look in vain for any answer to my very simple questions.

    For some bizarre reason you require that I “admit” that “atheistic morality” is nonsense, before you will tell me why “theistic morality” is not.

    I have not been arguing that “atheistic morality” is not nonsense. I have been arguing that the reason anyone behaves well towards others, even when their immediate, and even long-term personal comfort has to be sacrificed to achieve it is because most people value the welfare of others.

    We observe this frequently – people act self-sacrificingly despite having no prospect of personal reward, and indeed despite blighting their own futures by acting so.

    How can this be? Well, it is clearly not simply because the fear a Day of Reckoning, because many of them do not.

    It is, simply because the value they set on human welfare exceeds the value they set on their own pleasure.

    Sure, that means they have a reward because that’s what value means – if we value something, it means that we will work to achieve it.

    So you could call it “self-interest” if you like. But that self-interest is independent of any belief in a final Day of Reckoning. “Virtue is its own reward” as he saying goes, but to put it more secularly: if we value the welfare of others, and we do, we will be motivated to achieve that at the expense of personal pleasure, which we value less.

    I suggest this is as true of atheists as theists.

    That’s why I want to know what additional motivation you think theism supplies, because I think I have shown above that the simple value most of us place on the welfare of others is a more than adequate and rational motivation for us to care for other people.

    In other words, to be good.

    Unless you don’t think that good=caring for others.

    Which is what my second question is about: how do you, as a theist, determine what is good?

    And if you will not answer these two questions, Chris, I’m afraid we must stop there. I don’t understand your reluctance, because the answers do you depend on my response to your demand that I say something about “atheistic morality”. I don’t think there is such a thing. I think there is morality, period, and it consists of valuing the welfare of others at least as much as you do your own.

  235. 235
    Chris Doyle says:

    Keith, your challenge in post 230. EASY!

    So, the left hemisphere sees a dog, the left hemisphere communicates that information back to the soul, the soul tells the left hemisphere to point to a dog. The left hemisphere understands and takes control of the situation. The soul takes a back seat: it doesn’t micro-manage the brain.

    The left hemisphere now needs to send a message to the right hemisphere to move the left hand. It does that. But, the message doesn’t get there because the brain has been split. So, the left hand cannot point out a dog. The soul cannot miraculously bridge the gap between the left and right hemisphere, so that’s the end of the matter.

    If the left hand arm had been chopped off, but the brain was intact, the result would be the same. The soul cannot magic an arm to do the pointing any more than it can magic a connection in a split brain.

    The brain was designed with this connection. However the soul interacts with the brain, it clearly depends upon that connection for full functionality, there are clearly some (if not all) circumstances in which the lines of communication, if coming only from one hemisphere, simply exclude the other hemisphere: not a problem if the hemispheres communicate with each other (excluding the soul in these communications, in the same way as the soul is excluded from most of the brains commands and communications) as per the original design. It is very reasonable to assume that full functionality should be retained if the connection is severed.

  236. 236

    Chris:

    But, in the absence of this admission from Lizzie, I will correctly conclude that she is being intellectually dishonest… and I’m not willing to waste any more time dealing with intellectual dishonesty./blockquote>

    I do not mean this unkindly, Chris, but I must say it: I think this statement is quite extraordinarily blinkered. YOu seem to have taken the view that unless someone concurs with your position, they are being “intellectually dishonest”.

    Does it not occur to you, Chris, to consider, even briefly, that far from being “intellectually dishonest”, it is my very intellectual honesty that prevents me from conceding a point that I do not agree with? And that just possibly your own understanding may be at fault?

    It is certainly true that there is no point in continuing a discussion with someone who will not consider the possibility that they are mistaken.

    But that involves rigorous self-scrutiny, and, I would say, generosity, on both sides.

    But as a last attempt at a succinct statement of my positions

    I think morality consist in placing value on the welfare of other sentient beings.

    I think that most human beings do this.

    I think this is why most human beings pursue that value, even when the pursuit conflicts with their own narrow self-interest.

    I do not think that removing the threat of a Day of Reckoning makes any difference to this pursuit, because that is not most people’s motivation for being unselfish. Rather, they rationally pursue that which they value.

  237. 237
    Chris Doyle says:

    We must stop there then, Lizzie. Unless morality applies, even when you don’t care about others, even when it is only detrimental to your self-interest and there is no conceivable reward, even when it is the very last thing you want to do, when immorality is so much more appealing and rewarding with no drawbacks; and it stops all free-riders dead in their tracks… then it isn’t really morality. It’s just wishy-washy, unreliable nonsense.

    But you won’t admit that so I shall waste no more time on the subject. Bye!

  238. 238
    Mark Frank says:

    Chris – your reply to Lizzie seems deeply confused – but I am sure she can handle that better than I can. Meanwhile in my #214 and #228. I have explained why I think atheists behave morally. I begin to see now why in #211 Lizzie refused to go any further until you made an effort to explain why theists behave morally. It appears you will keep on debating atheist morality (a debate you can sustain indefinitely) rather than examine your theist morality in any kind of critical light.

    You say you can’t wait to talk about it but you procastinate for comment after comment.

    I can guess why – you don’t like the answer you will have to supply. It will come down to – “if you aren’t moral God will find you out and you will regret it i.e. look after your own interests in the long run”.

    There are fundamentally two attitudes to why we behave morality:

    A) We are compassionate creatures who care about others (the extent of ‘others’ varies throughout history and from one person to another). Therefore we have an innate desire to be moral. This of course may conflict with other more selfish desires.

    B) We only care about ourselves but behave morally because of fear of being found out. To care about others when you could not be found out is stupid.

    You appear to subscribe to B. If I thought you really believed that I would have to deduce some kind of pyschopath. As it is I just think you are deluding yourself – a much nicer option.

  239. 239

    Let me reformat that:

    Chris:

    But, in the absence of this admission from Lizzie, I will correctly conclude that she is being intellectually dishonest… and I’m not willing to waste any more time dealing with intellectual dishonesty.

    I do not mean this unkindly, Chris, but I must say it: I think this statement is quite extraordinarily blinkered. YOu seem to have taken the view that unless someone concurs with your position, they are being “intellectually dishonest”.

    Does it not occur to you, Chris, to consider, even briefly, that far from being “intellectually dishonest”, it is my very intellectual honesty that prevents me from conceding a point that I do not agree with? And that just possibly your own understanding may be at fault?

    It is certainly true that there is no point in continuing a discussion with someone who will not consider the possibility that they are mistaken.

    But that involves rigorous self-scrutiny, and, I would say, generosity, on both sides.

    But as a last attempt at a succinct statement of my position:

    * I think morality consist in placing value on the welfare of other sentient beings.

    * I think that most human beings do this.

    * I think this is why most human beings pursue that value, even when the pursuit conflicts with their own narrow self-interest.

    * I do not think that removing the threat of a Day of Reckoning makes any difference to this pursuit, because that is not most people’s motivation for being unselfish. Rather, they rationally pursue that which they value.

  240. 240
    Chris Doyle says:

    That’s just because you didn’t understand what I was writing, Mark. Not for the first time, but I thought we’d already had the last. Not really sure why you want to revisit old ground either…

    I know, and the record shows, that your position (and Lizzie’s) does not withstand the merest scrutiny. Your comments about theistic morality are totally irrelevant because they are yours not mine.

    And that’s the way it will stay until we have some intellectual honesty around here. Or maybe you’re just both really stupid when it comes to atheistic morality… Makes sense now that I think about. Either way, I think this discussion is at an end. So long!

  241. 241
    Chris Doyle says:

    Keith, an error at the end of my last post to you. It should read:

    ‘It is very UNreasonable to assume that full functionality should be retained if the connection is severed.”

  242. 242

    Shorter Chris:

    Your position makes no sense, therefore you are either stupid or dishonest.

    No, I won’t tell you what my position is, until you agree with me that your position makes no sense

    The reason you disagree with my position is that you don’t understand it.

    No, I won’t tell you what my position is, until you agree with me that your position makes no sense.

    The reason that I disagree with your position is that I understand that your position makes no sense.

    Therefore you are either stupid or dishonest.

  243. 243
    Mark Frank says:

    #240 Chris

    OK. As before, you want to talk about perceived weaknesses in atheistic morality but don’t want to talk about theistic morality. I thought it might be different this time.

    In some respects this is representative of ID which expends hundreds of thousands of words examining issues in evolutionary theory and is extremely reluctant to spend any time examining how a designer might have designed life.

  244. 244
    Chris Doyle says:

    Your position is the intellectual equivalent of advocating a flat Earth, Lizzie. And the “shorter Chris” is exactly how I would treat flat Earth advocates too.

    As it stands, I’ve produced a nice long detailed post (231) which exhaustively covers your entire atheistic morality. In it, I have clearly demonstrated why every reason you’ve offered for an atheist to be moral fails… And we’re talking irredeemable and total failure.

    Your response to that post? Lots of moaning about not being allowed to change the subject.

    Says it all, Lizzie, says it all.

    Until a flat Earther demonstrated the willingness and ability to be intellectually honest, demonstrated that they now understand why the Earth isn’t flat, I would treat them exactly the same way, rather than let then equivocate, filibuster, move the goal posts, change the subject, etc. The exact same applies to atheistic morality, and rightly so.

  245. 245

    Chris:

    As it stands, I’ve produced a nice long detailed post (231) which exhaustively covers your entire atheistic morality. In it, I have clearly demonstrated why every reason you’ve offered for an atheist to be moral fails… And we’re talking irredeemable and total failure.

    Not in my view, Chris. Indeed, in my view I have “clearly demonstrated” why your post at 231 does NOT “cover [my] atheistic morality” not least because I have not even presented an “atheistic morality” as being any different from what I see as anyone else’s morality.

    Unlike you, however, I do not have the arrogance to assume that your apparent misunderstanding is due to your stupidity. I consider it possible I may have misunderstood you. Which is why I keep asking you to state your own position

    Which you refuse to do.

    So let me say this one more time:

    I am not proposing an “atheistic morality”. You are attacking a straw man. I am proposing that the reason PEOPLE (atheists,theists) behave morally is that they are capable of valuing the welfare of people and sentient beings as highly as their own. Thus they do not need any theistic punishment/reward schedule to behave well or “rationally” – they simply pursue what they value, because what they value is its own reward.

    I do not suppose for one minute, Chris, that you would start barbecuing babies were you to be persuaded that there was no Day of Reckoning. I think you are misleading yourself when you think so. I think, like Huck Finn, that you would do what you thought right, even if you thought your God thought it wrong.

    Which is why I suggest that the most coherent theologies are those in which we recognise God in what is good, rather than determining good by what we think God will reward or punish us for.

    Which in any case, in practice, would be, and is, horribly subjective. The 9/11 bombers acted in the belief that what they were doing was what God wanted, and that they would be rewarded for doing God’s will.

    Had they instead trusted their own inherent valuation of human welfare, the people they murdered might still be alive. Had they, in fact, thought: “I don’t care if God wants this, I think it’s wrong, so I won’t do it, whatever the consequences for my immortal soul”.

    That would not have been applying “atheistic” morality – it would be applying simple human morality – use of the very faculty by which, I suggest, some of us recognise God.

  246. 246
    Chris Doyle says:

    That’s like saying, the Earth is not flat, nor round, it is flat AND round. Post 231 Lizzie: address it or admit you can’t. Anything else is pure evasion.

  247. 247
    keiths says:

    Chris,

    Your answer is absurd.

    EASY!

    So, the left hemisphere sees a dog, the left hemisphere communicates that information back to the soul, the soul tells the left hemisphere to point to a dog. The left hemisphere understands and takes control of the situation. The soul takes a back seat: it doesn’t micro-manage the brain.

    The left hemisphere now needs to send a message to the right hemisphere to move the left hand. It does that. But, the message doesn’t get there because the brain has been split. So, the left hand cannot point out a dog. The soul cannot miraculously bridge the gap between the left and right hemisphere, so that’s the end of the matter.

    You can’t be serious.

    The left hand points, Chris, but it points to the wrong answer. If the soul made it move, why didn’t the soul make it point to the right answer?

    And do you really think the soul is too stupid to notice that the hand pointed to the wrong answer?

    None of this makes sense in terms of the soul, but it makes perfect sense if the mind is just what the brain does.

    Ghosts don’t exist, and neither do immaterial souls.

  248. 248
    Chris Doyle says:

    Keith, once again, your entire argument is predicated on the blatantly false notion that the soul would be capable of doing something with the brain that the brain itself cannot do. Really bad theology, man.

    I’m perfectly satisfied with the explanation I gave, and it makes much more sense than claiming that splitting the brain creates two separate identities in the same body. Tell me, have you ever actually met someone with a split brain? Have you discussed the subject with them and their nearest and dearest? Because if you haven’t, you should really say nothing more on the matter. I hope you do seek some split-brain people out and make the effort to meet them face to face… don’t be too disappointed when they laugh long and hard at your “two minds, one body” story.

    You never actually responded to post 199, but don’t feel the need to unless you’re going to document your meeting with a split brain person. Between post 199 and this one, I’m satisfied that the record is straight and your claims are not supported by the evidence.

  249. 249
    keiths says:

    Chris,

    Keith, once again, your entire argument is predicated on the blatantly false notion that the soul would be capable of doing something with the brain that the brain itself cannot do.

    If the soul doesn’t do anything with the brain that the brain itself cannot do, then what does the soul do? What good is a soul that just sits there and does nothing? And how could such a soul be morally responsible for our actions?

    But of course, you do think that the soul interacts with the brain. For example, you said:

    …the soul tells the left hemisphere to point to a dog.The left hemisphere understands and takes control of the situation. The soul takes a back seat: it doesn’t micro-manage the brain.

    The left hemisphere now needs to send a message to the right hemisphere to move the left hand. It does that. But, the message doesn’t get there because the brain has been split. So, the left hand cannot point out a dog.

    As I pointed out, your explanation makes no sense:

    The left hand points, Chris, but it points to the wrong answer. If the soul made it move, why didn’t the soul make it point to the right answer?

    And do you really think the soul is too stupid to notice that the hand pointed to the wrong answer?

    None of this makes sense in terms of the soul, but it makes perfect sense if the mind is just what the brain does.

    Ghosts don’t exist, and neither do immaterial souls.

  250. 250
    Chris Doyle says:

    Where did I say the soul doesn’t do anything with the brain? This is going nowhere now, Keith and misrepresenting me is the quickest way to end my interest.

  251. 251
    keiths says:

    Chris,

    I’m perfectly satisfied with the explanation I gave

    Yet you can’t defend it.

    …and it makes much more sense than claiming that splitting the brain creates two separate identities in the same body.

    It makes no sense at all. See my comments above.

    Tell me, have you ever actually met someone with a split brain? Have you discussed the subject with them and their nearest and dearest? Because if you haven’t, you should really say nothing more on the matter.

    Seriously, Chris? You think I should ignore the science unless I have personally met a split-brain patient?

    And isn’t a bit odd for you to say that, since you just got through telling us how the soul works with a split brain?

  252. 252
    keiths says:

    Where did I say the soul doesn’t do anything with the brain?

    Well, I thought that’s what you were saying here:

    Keith, once again, your entire argument is predicated on the blatantly false notion that the soul would be capable of doing something with the brain that the brain itself cannot do.

    It doesn’t matter, though, because the rest of my comment assumes that you do think the soul does something with the brain.

    The experimental results cannot be reconciled with the idea of a unified, immaterial soul.

  253. 253
    Chris Doyle says:

    I simply gave an account for the sake of argument that was more plausible than yours in direct response to your question. If you never asked, I wouldn’t have offered it. Now that I know you’ve never actually met a split-brain patient I realise that all I needed to say from the beginning was:

    “You’re saying these people host two different identities and you’ve never actually asked them, or their loved ones, whether they agree with you?”

    This is the stuff of madness. I can only hope you had a much better reason than split-brains to give up on your immortal soul.

    There is a very, very big shock heading your way: a day when the truth of all your deeds will be laid before your immortal soul. So, heed the warning and take care of it in this life.

  254. 254
    Chris Doyle says:

    Really, you thought that was what I was saying? Wow. That explains why we are now talking past each other. And also why you refuse to address that point.

    Oh well.

  255. 255
    keiths says:

    Chris,

    Did you even watch the videos? When a split-brain person speaks, it is the left hemisphere that is doing the speaking. The left hemisphere doesn’t feel like it has two identities, because it doesn’t! It has one identity and the right hemisphere has the other one.

    But yes, split-brain patients do report dual identities in their bodies. They say things like, “My left hand has a mind of it’s own.” They are literally correct.

    I can only hope you had a much better reason than split-brains to give up on your immortal soul.

    Oh, split-brain observations are just the tip of the iceberg. There is an enormous amount of other evidence against the existence of an immaterial soul.

    To believe in an immaterial soul is irrational. The soul is a holdover from our pre-scientific days, and its time for thinking people everywhere to abandon it.

    The truth is much more interesting!

  256. 256
    Chris Doyle says:

    Okay, final word: go and ask as many split-brain people as you can if they feel like they are sharing their body with another soul – material or immaterial. Report your findings and let’s see where the evidence leads. That’s science. Until you do, you’ve got nothing but speculation and story-telling. Yes, I know that is what neo-Darwinism relies on… but that aint science either.

    One last thing, you should also read The Spiritual Brain (mentioned in the OP). That will help you find your way back to the straight path as far as the immaterial soul is concerned. Mind and brain are two separate things: you know this deep down. Unfortunately you threw the baby out with the bathwater.

  257. 257
    keiths says:

    Chris, you crack me up.

    But I also feel sorry for you, because I know from experience how disorienting it is when you first realize that the soul isn’t real.

    Keep thinking about it, and best wishes to you. Life can still be wonderful even without a soul.

  258. 258

    I don’t think he does “realize” it. I think he is utterly convinced we are wrong, and that he is right. So convinced that he simply does not understand any counter-argument and can only conclude that we are either stupid or intellectually dishonest.

    And he may indeed be right, though obviously I don’t think so. But I do think it is sad that he cannot even conceive of the possibility, and that his only option is to conclude that we are irredeemably lost.

  259. 259

    All though, to be fair, I agree with him that mind and brain are two very different things!

    But I think that the result of a split ccc is two minds, not because the mind and the brain are the same (they aren’t) but because the brain-body information collection and processing system that results in a mind, has become separated, and thus different processing capabilites and data result in two different minds.

  260. 260
    Chris Doyle says:

    Ah Keith, no need for that. If you knew me, you wouldn’t feel sorry for me. You would wish you had what I had. Life couldn’t be any better for me, I’m one of the lucky ones and I’m very grateful for it.

    I’m also one of the good guys. I think you want to be one too. But, like many atheists, you can’t get on with Christianity. I understand that, I’m no Christian either. There is more to theological truth than the Bible. I hope you find that out for yourself sooner rather than later.

    Farewell.

  261. 261
    Chris Doyle says:

    Woah, Lizzie, I understand the counter-arguments – the vast majority are not original, have been well-refuted by others as well as myself and so they are something I’ve known about for years and years.

    To be fair to Keith, his split brain argument was original which was why I jumped in. Not very good, but original.

    And I’ve stated many times that I’m open to ID being false and neo-Darwinism being true. But atheism? No, I’m about as open to that as I am to a flat Earth. It is self-evidentally and scientifically false. You put your faith in Chance: that was a very silly place to put it.

    How about actually responding to my points for a change, rather than all this wistful commentary?

  262. 262

    I keep responding to your points, Chris, and your counter-response is to accuse me of either stupidity or intellectual dishonesty.

    And when I ask you a question, you refuse to answer because I haven’t conceded your point.

    Hence all I have left is “wistful commentary”>

  263. 263
    Chris Doyle says:

    That’s just not true, Lizzie. Post 231 on this very thread stands out clear and without response. What else am I supposed to think? I’ll answer all relevant questions but not ones that change the subject, especially when you’re on the ropes! Because that really would be stupid.

  264. 264
    Proton says:

    Keiths, I agree with all of your premises, but your conclusion, this one:

    The conclusion is inescapable: the immaterial soul does not exist.

    ..is incomplete/wrong. What your evidence points to (and should hit in the face of religious zealots) is this:

    If an inmaterial soul exists, it does not influence the brain (and by extension, our actions).

    It doesn’t prove the inmaterial soul doesn’t exist.

    Now, if you ask, “what does a soul do if it doesn’t influece the brain?” then the answer might be that the soul has just “after-death” purposes.

  265. 265

    I responded in 234 Chris, almost immediately.

  266. 266
    keiths says:

    Hi Proton,

    If an inmaterial soul exists, it does not influence the brain (and by extension, our actions).

    I agree, and that is why I started this discussion by defining what I meant by an “immaterial soul”:

    To those who believe in an immaterial soul, let me repeat my invitation from yesterday:

    Hi UDers,

    I have a new post at TSZ:

    Split-brain patients and the dire implications for the soul

    In it, I explain why observations of split-brain patients pose a serious challenge to those who believe “that each of us has an immaterial mind or soul that constitutes our true self, and that the body, including the brain, is merely a vehicle ‘inhabited’ and controlled by the mind or soul.”

    I know that many of you believe in immaterial souls, so I would be interested in hearing how you can reconcile — and if you can reconcile — your belief in the soul with the fascinating characteristics of split-brain patients.

    I would of course prefer that you post your comments at TSZ, but here is fine too if you are TSZ-averse.

    I just didn’t want to have to type all of that every time I referred to the soul, so I’ve used ‘immaterial soul’ as a shorthand for the concept described above.

  267. 267
    keiths says:

    Proton,

    While we wait for more challengers, could you elaborate on your concept of the soul, and what these “after-death purposes” might be?

    It sounds interesting.

  268. 268
    TJ says:

    Elizabeth,

    ““Virtue is its own reward” as he saying goes, but to put it more secularly: if we value the welfare of others, and we do, we will be motivated to achieve that at the expense of personal pleasure, which we value less”

    I agree with that. People are motivated by what they value.

    That doesn’t give us a basis for objective values though. Maybe that isn’t what you were trying to do. But it seems to me that is the important question. Why do people do what they do? Doesn’t seem as important.

  269. 269

    Here’s my basic argument against a separate immaterial mind (as opposed to the mind as an emergent property, itself immaterial, of material processes, and thus dependent on them for its continued existence):

    If the soul can affect the brain – remote control” it, then it must physically move matter (for instance, nudge ions towards ion channels so as to trigger one neural cascade and one outcome action, rather than another). It must therefore, in a strict physical sense do work (and therefore, if the 2nd Law of thermodynamics is to be preserved, experience increased entropy, but let’s not go there….)

    Not only that, but to be anything other than random noise in the system, it must be informed. Thus it must have some method of obtaining relevant data – possibly from the brain itself, possibly from some other source.

    Thus, it must have information inputs, and output work.

    In what sense, therefore, should we call it “immaterial”? It should be perfectly detectable by normal methods of science (i.e by observing what affects it and what it affects), and therefore no more “immaterial” than any other physical force or physical object in the universe.

    In other words, if we try to attribute “immateriality” to the decision-making agent we call the “mind” or the “soul” or the “will”, then we deprive it of both the input necessary to make an informed decision, and the means in which to implement its output. But if we try to assign to it those inputs and outputs, then the putative soul/mind/will ceases to be “material” (except in the emergent sense).

    Even more simply:

    If the will/soul/mind is uncaused, how can it be informed? And if it is caused, in what sense is it free?

    I could answer that question using the emergent model, but I’d like someone who proposes an immaterial, acausal mind to have a shot!

  270. 270

    TJ

    That doesn’t give us a basis for objective values though. Maybe that isn’t what you were trying to do. But it seems to me that is the important question. Why do people do what they do? Doesn’t seem as important.

    Depends what you mean by objective – in some senses of the word, it is highly objective – but yes, it wasn’t what I was attempting to do.

    But I agree that your question as to why we value the welfare of others at all, and sometimes more than our own, is a good one.

    I think there are two perfectly decent answers, one religious, and one not:

    1. Because we are made in God’s image and regardless of what we believe, we have implanted in us the desire to do good, even thought it will often conflict with our selfish desires – what Quakers call “that of God in everyone”.

    2. Because we evolved as a social species with the capacity for empathy, a selectable trait in a social species, especially one with long child-rearing times, and because as a species we have learned, collectively, that reciprocal altruism is the system that benefits all, provided there is some system to penalise cheaters, and that this knowledge is passed down culturally, and referred to as “morality”.

  271. 271
    Proton says:

    Keiths,

    As a theist I believe in a inmaterial soul (I’ll call it “soul” from now on), however as a materialist (except regarding origins) I don’t believe that such soul is “active/existent” during our lifetime or influences our thoughts or actions.

    I believe that our soul is either:
    1-created as an inmaterial entity when we die (as a vase for our thoughts/memories/dreams to keep existing after death),
    2-or is created during the lifetime of any living being when they develop self-conciousness (so I believe that if in the future we could give more intelligence to animals to the point of developing self-counciousness, they will also develop a soul).

    In any case however, the soul does not influence the material world (which means I don’t believe in ghosts). In the first case it doesn’t even exist until we die, and in the second case the soul just grows along with us during our lifetime without interferring with our lives.

    In both cases, the result at the end is the same: The purpose of the soul is to be a vehicle for our selfs to exist after death (if the Designer cares about us that much, which I’m inclined to think given how much work it took on the design of the laws of physics, the natural world, and us).

    These are mostly random thoughts, never thought someone would ask 🙂

  272. 272
    keiths says:

    Proton,

    …in the second case the soul just grows along with us during our lifetime without interferring with our lives.

    That sounds similar to Leibniz’s “pre-established harmony” idea, which was intended to solve the “interaction problem” that Lizzie describes above in her second paragraph.

  273. 273

    Proton:

    That was more or less the theology I got from my time attending Blackfriars Priory in Oxford – that we, in effect, make our soul as we go along.

    One of the preachers there, Fr Herbert McCabe, used to be very scathing about this idea of the soul as a “kind of helium balloon you were handed some time before birth, and carried around through out your life, until it finally escaped your dying clutches and floated off”. I remember thinking embarassedly – well, yeah, isn’t it?

    It sort of works though, I think 🙂

  274. 274
    Proton says:

    Keiths:

    I fail to see any conection between Leibniz’s “pre-established harmony” idea and my idea. I really picture the soul as something that, if it exists, it does in an alternate reality of some sorts, with no physical conection to the material world (maybe a spiritual one).

    This means that for all practical purposes there’s no point in imagining a logic where a soul and our current material world have to be in harmony, as we and our soul exist in different realities/planes and/or are of different nature.

    Of course, this are my ideas. There’s a train of thought that leads me to them that I like to think follows some logic 🙂

  275. 275
    TJ says:

    Lizzie,

    I agree they both explain why we might value something, but I actually meant to go further and actually give an objective basis for values.
    By objective I mean independent of what people think or perceive.
    Option 1 doesn’t accomplish this it only tells us why we have perceptions.
    Options 2 is seems to me gives the same thing an explanation on why without an objective basis

    In order to get an objective basis I think we need a standard of value to be a fundamental feature of reality. Why do I think values need to be objective?
    Because torturing kids for fun isn’t just out of sync with evolution or preprogrammed wiring it is straight up wrong. It seems to me that any view which denies objective wrongness of actions like that is lacking.

    fyi: I’m learning quickly to use word to type a response for when my computer hickups or I forget to do my math. Losing a couple paragraphs is lame.

  276. 276
    TJ says:

    Lizzie,

    “If the will/soul/mind is uncaused, how can it be informed? And if it is caused, in what sense is it free?”

    Great question. I’m not sure I’d agree that it is uncaused. So if it is caused how is it free? Well not sure. But I have direct experience of being free and making choices that have physical effects. But the fact that I can’t name a mechanism by which freedom comes about doesn’t mean much I don’t think. I don’t know a mechanism for why a quantum particle seems to know it is being observed in the double slit experiment either. But it does appear to happen. I view it as a cause aka some stimulus comes to the brain the mind then can affect that or not and “WHALA” we have our actions (maybe a little simplistic). I don’t know the mechanism of the mind but to be free it seems this is at least somewhat similar to what would be needed.

  277. 277
    Querius says:

    Keiths,

    Regardless of your arguments, you’re *still* dodging the question:

    Why you think that the fact that we can have significant conflicts within our personality (i.e. soul), as demonstrated by your left-right brain examples of brain-damaged individuals, disproves the existence of a non-material soul?

    Maybe it’s because you can’t think of an answer. 😉

  278. 278
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    Pretending doesn’t make it so.

    I’ve even given a detailed, step-by-step explanation of how the immaterial soul fails to explain a particular split-brain observation.

    Do you have a rebuttal, or will you continue to pretend that I haven’t answered your question?

  279. 279
    Chris Doyle says:

    Morning Lizzie,

    Your “reply” in post 234 was nothing of the sort. I mean, it started off like this:

    <blockquote cite="
    Chris, thanks for your long response, but…
    I look in vain for any answer to my very simple questions."

    Before completely going off on a tangent. You call that a “response”. I call that filibustering: writing lots of stuff without actually responding to any of the main points I made. You also repeat points that I refuted in post 231 without addressing – or even showing awareness of those refutations. I even reinforced those refutations in post 237… but they have simply been ignored too. You wrongly assume that everyone values the welfare of everyone else. But, the fact is, most people do not value the welfare 99.9999% of the people. And, more importantly, atheists do not have any good reason to place the welfare of others about their own welfare (except in the extremely narrow and limited sense that I mentioned in post 231). This is why you need to respond to post 231 before ploughing on regardless. That would be intellectually honest, and I’d be grateful for a bit of that.

    As for those questions you’re searching for answers for, they basically boil down to: “I don’t want to talk about atheistic morality anymore. Please can we talk about theistic morality instead?” I agree: I’ll stop flogging the dead horse of atheistic morality when you stop trying to flog it to me!

  280. 280
    Chris Doyle says:

    It has always surprised me that the reason you embraced atheism, Lizzie, was because you ceased to believe in the immaterial soul. I mean, just look at your comments about the fossil record. You’ve got no physical evidence whatsoever that all the missing transitional fossils which neo-Darwinism completely depends upon ever actually existed. But you still believe they did.

    We’ve got no means of physically detecting dark matter or dark energy: they are unobservable. But you still believe they are there.

    I don’t know where you stand on multiverses, again wholly unobservable, but you may at least be open to the possibility that they are there too.

    So, clearly, you are someone who doesn’t need to actually physically detect something to believe in it. You already believe in unobservables. Indeed, in the case of fossils, where the fossil record is only telling you that there it contains no transitionals, you blame the fossil record instead: such is your commitment to the existence of unobservables.

    Which raises the question, why be so hard on the immaterial soul? That’s just another unobservable after all. Furthermore, I think there are very good reasons to accept that we all have one. True, free-will for starters. Also the placebo and nocebo effect. And many other things which I won’t go into here.

    Looking at the specific problem you mentioned, how does the immaterial soul “remote control” the brain, well, I wonder if quantum mechanics is the key. The role of the observer is one of the strangest features of quantum physics. If the immaterial soul was the “observer” at the quantum level of the brain, that could possibly provide an interface where the material world interacts with the immaterial world. The will/soul/mind is caused by the observer effect of a truly free immaterial soul.

    Of course, this is all very speculative. The mind-body problem is very much a “known unknown” and I’m almost certain it will remain that way. After all, if we could arrive at a scientific certainty that the immaterial soul exists then that would provide a moral sanction that would frankly make the game of life far too easy.

    Tell me, Lizzie, just pretend for a minute that atheistic morality truly does fail. Would that cause you to abandon atheism? Or would it cause you to abandon morality? I’m just wondering, because you’ve taken a given of the theistic worldview – the immaterial soul – rejected it and thrown the whole theistic worldview out. Would you apply the same standard to atheistic morality?

  281. 281
    keiths says:

    Chris, to Lizzie:

    Which raises the question, why be so hard on the immaterial soul? That’s just another unobservable after all.

    The issue isn’t whether or not something is directly observable. The issue is whether its existence entails observable consequences, and whether the observations match those predictions.

    As I demonstrated, the immaterial soul hypothesis makes predictions that are contradicted by the split-brain evidence. Why retain a hypothesis that doesn’t fit the data?

    Also, you mention the placebo and nocebo effects. Why do you believe that those favor dualism over materialism?

  282. 282
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hang on Keith, have you been to interview a whole set of split-brain patients already? I thought we agreed you couldn’t possibly accuse a split-brain patient of having two souls if you never actually met one? Especially if they, and their loved ones, all agree that they’ve only got one soul.

    Only a fool or a mad-man would claim otherwise!

  283. 283
    keiths says:

    Chris:

    I thought we agreed you couldn’t possibly accuse a split-brain patient of having two souls if you never actually met one?

    Are you kidding? Why would I agree with that ridiculous assertion? (By the way, it’s minds, not souls. I don’t think the immaterial soul exists, remember?)

    I’ve never seen a duck-billed platypus. Am I obligated to “interview” one before I can “accuse” it of having a bill? Am I “a fool or a madman” for claiming otherwise?

    Chris, your religious beliefs are causing you to say some ridiculous things.

  284. 284
    Chris Doyle says:

    Actually, your religious beliefs are causing you to say some ridiculous things, Keith.

    It’s fair to say that if you asked anyone with a split-brain, or indeed anyone who knows them well, whether or not two souls now occupy their body, they would say “of course not!”.

    The only people who say otherwise are agenda-driven atheists like you Keith.

    Should you nonetheless continue referring to split-brain patients as an argument against the immaterial soul despite the fact that you’ve never met one, or even met someone who knows one, so never tested your hypothesis by simply asking the one question that would confirm or destroy it then that will be a clear demonstration that you are as intellectually dishonest as the next Internet Atheist. If you’re happy to be painted with that brush, I will happily paint you with it.

    This will be my last word on split-brain patients until you return here with evidence that you’ve done the field work.

  285. 285
    keiths says:

    Chris Doyle:

    Should you nonetheless continue referring to split-brain patients as an argument against the immaterial soul despite the fact that you’ve never met one

    Chris,

    Your argument ridicules itself. My simple substitution shows why:

    Should you nonetheless continue referring to duck-billed platypuses as evidence that mammals can have bills despite the fact that you’ve never met one

  286. 286
    Chris Doyle says:

    You can see bills, you can’t see souls. Plus, you’ve already made you mind up. I refer you back to post 284.

  287. 287
    keiths says:

    The soul hypothesis makes testable predictions. The predictions fail. The evidence shows that the immaterial soul does not exist.

    Meanwhile, the “two minds in a single skull” hypothesis passes with flying colors.

  288. 288
    Chris Doyle says:

    No, Keith. You are not being scientific. Your claims are not falsifiable. Even if every single split-brain patient, and everyone who knows them, claimed that only one soul occupies their body – and, let’s be honest here, that is what they will all say – you would still be ignoring all the facts and all the evidence claiming that they’ve all got two souls, that your hypothesis passes with flying colours.

    Funnily enough, this is exactly how neo-Darwinists behave. Extreme cognitive dissonance. Interesting to consider that once you embrace atheistic evolution so tightly you actually lose the ability to think scientifically.

    Anyway, should you come to your senses, I refer you back to post 284. It was a good one, and it deserves a proper response.

  289. 289

    Chris

    As for those questions you’re searching for answers for, they basically boil down to: “I don’t want to talk about atheistic morality anymore. Please can we talk about theistic morality instead?” I agree: I’ll stop flogging the dead horse of atheistic morality when you stop trying to flog it to me!

    It’s a bit frustrating when you continually tell me I’m talking about “atheistic morality” when I’ve repeatedly told you I’m not. And I’m certainly not trying to “flog” any morality to you.

    I’ve asked you two simple questions that for some reason you won’t answer.

    I think they are highly relevant because I have presented what I think is the reason anyone, theist or atheist, behaves morally (namely because they value the wellbeing of others), and what I want to know is what additional motivation is provided by theism. It should make no difference to your answer whether or not you think my proffered general motivation to be moral is, in your view adequate (I think it is, but you may not); if your theistic motivation is stronger (stronger than zero if you like), then why not tell me what it is?

    And, in addition, tell me how you discern what constitutes moral behaviour under a theistic model. Under my general model (not atheistic or theistic) what you seem to think is moral behaviour (considering others not merely ourselves) is simply motivated by the value we seem, as human beings, to put on others’ welfare. I can see that a theistic model as to why we should thus value others’ wellbeing may differ from an atheistic one (an atheist might argue it is a result of evolving as a social species and as a result of shared knowledge of what makes for a productive society), while a theist might argue that it comes from “that of God in everyone” as Quakers have it, but in both cases, moral behavour has the same motivation: the value we place on the well-being of others.

    But you seem to be suggesting that this is inadequate – that without belief, or possibly habit acquired from the believe of others, in some ultimate “Day of reckoning” we would all immediately devalue the well-being of others.

    I see no evidence that this is the case, and I simply do not think it is at all likely, that were you, now, per impossibile, to say to yourself: oh geez, Lizzie’s right, there is no ultimately Day of Reckoning, that you would immediately stop valuing the welfare of others. Of course you wouldn’t – that valuation is an intrinsic property of you as a human being.

    We strive for what we value. It is the technical definition of “motivation”. Human beings, regardless of their religious beliefs, tend to value the wellbeing of others, therefore they behave in a way that you would call “moral” – they do not steal things for themselves just because the CCTV camera is switched off. Some do, of course, and and we call that “immoral” and we try to teach children the value of other people’s wellbeing. Mostly they learn, because it comes very naturally.

    Re your post at 280, which I really appreciate – you raise some good questions which I will try to answer:

    It has always surprised me that the reason you embraced atheism, Lizzie, was because you ceased to believe in the immaterial soul. I mean, just look at your comments about the fossil record. You’ve got no physical evidence whatsoever that all the missing transitional fossils which neo-Darwinism completely depends upon ever actually existed. But you still believe they did.

    We’ve got no means of physically detecting dark matter or dark energy: they are unobservable. But you still believe they are there.

    I don’t know where you stand on multiverses, again wholly unobservable, but you may at least be open to the possibility that they are there too.

    So, clearly, you are someone who doesn’t need to actually physically detect something to believe in it. You already believe in unobservables. Indeed, in the case of fossils, where the fossil record is only telling you that there it contains no transitionals, you blame the fossil record instead: such is your commitment to the existence of unobservables.

    Absolutely. In fact as a scientist I would go further – I’d say that all our measurements are proxy measurements for what is really there. None of our observations are “direct”. We can’t even see the wind, yet we can talk about it confidently because of its effects. And so that is not my “problem” with an immaterial soul. I am quite sure that “consciousness” and “mind” exist, because I can measure their effects, and I can also measure their causes. This is why we can detect dark matter, and indeed, it’s why we can detect stars themselves. After all we cannot reach out and touch a star, and put a sample of it in test tube – we only infer it from its electromagnetic radiation which luckily includes that narrow part of the spectrum that our retinas are sensitive to. And using infra-red equipment we can detect things whose spectrum does not.

    Which raises the question, why be so hard on the immaterial soul? That’s just another unobservable after all. Furthermore, I think there are very good reasons to accept that we all have one. True, free-will for starters. Also the placebo and nocebo effect. And many other things which I won’t go into here.

    I think those are very good evidence for something, Chris, and I’m even happy to call it a “soul” – it’s the “immaterial” part I’m objecting to.

    Looking at the specific problem you mentioned, how does the immaterial soul “remote control” the brain, well, I wonder if quantum mechanics is the key. The role of the observer is one of the strangest features of quantum physics. If the immaterial soul was the “observer” at the quantum level of the brain, that could possibly provide an interface where the material world interacts with the immaterial world. The will/soul/mind is caused by the observer effect of a truly free immaterial soul.

    Yes, that’s a popular argument (it’s Ken Miller’s for instance, and indeed is related to Roger Penrose’s ideas). It was certainly mine for many decades. The world-shattering moment for me was when I realised (as I see it) that it doesn’t actually work.

    But I do understand that some people still think it does, and I accept that my perception that it doesn’t itself may be an error. Be that as it may, the reason I think it doesn’t work, is not because of any abstruse physics, but because if the soul is to make an informed decision, it must not only be able to implement that decision as output (possibly via quantum nudges to the probabilities, of, say an energy state in an ion that might, or might not, slip through an ion-channel and critically affect whether the resulting depolarisation state of a neuron takes it nearer or further from firing, and thus send the subsequent neural cascade down a pathway culminating in one executed decision rather than another) but must be able to make that decision in the light of available information. If the question is: do I put my money in the collection plate or spend it on sweeties?, the soul must be able to access information about the consequences of each alternative course of action. In other words, we are still left with an interface with the physical world we have not accounted for. And if we do try to account for it, then we find ourselves with material soul, not an immaterial one – in other words something whose state both affects, and is affected by, the physical world.

    Of course, this is all very speculative. The mind-body problem is very much a “known unknown” and I’m almost certain it will remain that way. After all, if we could arrive at a scientific certainty that the immaterial soul exists then that would provide a moral sanction that would frankly make the game of life far too easy.

    Tell me, Lizzie, just pretend for a minute that atheistic morality truly does fail. Would that cause you to abandon atheism? Or would it cause you to abandon morality? I’m just wondering, because you’ve taken a given of the theistic worldview – the immaterial soul – rejected it and thrown the whole theistic worldview out. Would you apply the same standard to atheistic morality?

    Well, as I keep saying, Chris, I do not have a concept of “atheistic morality”. What I do have is good evidence that people are motivated to serve others simply because they value the well-being of others, not because they fear the penalties that they will accrue if they do not. So I’m not clear what part of this you are positing could fail. Do you mean, if I were persuaded that the reason I valued other people’s welfare was solely because of an ingrained but irrational revulsion against seeing other people suffer, would I start to treat people badly?

    I guess I would. But that seems tantamount to saying: if I ceased to value other people’s welfare would I cease to value other people’s welfare? It’s a tautology.

    But I never believed any different. I never thought, even as a theist, that I had to be kind to people otherwise I’d be punished, in the next world, if not in this. I figured I wanted to be kind to people, and that that desire was the sign of God’s presence in me (and, equally, in atheists, even though they didn’t call it that). And that when I was tempted not to be kind, that was a “turning away” from God.

    In other words, my morality is utterly unchanged from what it was when I was a theist (hence my refusal to describe it as “atheistic morality”) – it remains, as it ever was, the value I put on the welfare of others.

    And I recognise it in both atheists and in theists, as I ever did. It’s simply that I no longer ascribe it to the presence of “God” within in me but to our evolved human capacity to feel each other’s pain, and rejoice in others’ joy.

    It’s a theological change, not a moral one.

    Which is why I keep asking you about your theistic morality – as I say, my morality is the same as it is now. But yours seems very different, and to depend on a “Day of Reckoning”.

    I find that odd. And unfair – on you.

  290. 290
    Joe says:

    keiths:

    The soul hypothesis makes testable predictions.

    And you don’t have any idea what those are. So you lose, again.

  291. 291
    Proton says:

    Elizabeth:

    Which is why I keep asking you about your theistic morality

    I think you should use the term “religious morality” instead. I’m a theist, however I agree with your concept of morality (“the value I put on the welfare of others”).

    Morality becomes complicated under a religious view, not a theistic one per se. Non-religious theists would agree with your concept of morality.

  292. 292
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hang about, Lizzie, I think we’re making progress at last:

    <blockquote cite=
    if I were persuaded that the reason I valued other people’s welfare was solely because of an ingrained but irrational revulsion against seeing other people suffer, would I start to treat people badly?

    I guess I would.

    Excellent Lizzie, this is exactly what I’ve been driving at. There are also other reasons why people don’t value the welfare of others:

    1. Many people only value the welfare of others who are in their particular circle of care. Anyone outside the circle simply doesn’t matter. Often, that circle of care is very exclusive indeed with just a few members, even one member.

    2. Some people don’t have a circle of care: either because they somehow lost everyone who was ever in it, or because they never had one in the first place.

    3. Other people simply do not care about anyone except themselves. Even if they have a circle of care, the welfare of anyone in it pales by comparison to selfish interests. The caring instinct was never ingrained and never nurtured.

    4. A rational atheist may evaluate his situation in the universe and decide that he will not waste another second of time caring about the welfare of others if it reduces his enjoyment of life. After all, you only live once.

    All of the above reflect the world we live in today. They are not theoretical examples, they are based on observational fact. And, in all cases except the last one, it is equally true of theists as well as atheists.

    So, onto your conclusion:
    <blockquote cite=
    But that seems tantamount to saying: if I ceased to value other people’s welfare would I cease to value other people’s welfare? It’s a tautology.

    At last, you have identified a key difference between atheistic morality and theistic morality!

    Because for atheistic morality, if you cease to value the welfare of others you no longer have any reason to treat them in a morally good way. The reason you ended up with a tautology is because atheistic morality is absolutely conditional on valuing the welfare of others . If you don’t care about others, then atheistic morality fails. Even if you value the welfare of every single person alive bar one – poor wee Tam – and for one moment in your life, you need to do something morally good for poor wee Tam, then you won’t, because you don’t care about poor wee Tam: even then, atheistic morality fails.

    Are you with me so far, Lizzie?

  293. 293
    Chris Doyle says:

    Rubbish HTML tags, sorry!

  294. 294

    I do wish you’d stop calling it “atheistic morality”, Chris! If you stop valuing the welfare of others, morality stops, period, doesn’t matter whether you are a theist or an atheist.

    Hence the importance of my question to you.

    But I agree we were getting somewhere, so let me put to you a different one:

    Let’s say an atheist stops valuing the welfare of others for some reason. However, you fit that atheist with a hi-tech gadget that gives her an electric shock every time she does something mean. As a result, even though she still doesn’t value the welfare of others one jot, she values not being shocked quite a lot, so she isn’t mean.

    Is she now more moral?

  295. 295

    Proton: thanks for your comment. Yes, that may be a better term – I really just meant, though, whatever Chris means by non-atheistic morality!

  296. 296
    Querius says:

    Keiths,

    Assume that:

    1. There is an immaterial soul.

    First you need to define what you mean. In the Hebrew Tanach, the word is nephesh, which is a living being. In the Greek New Testament, the word is ps?chê (or psyche), which is pretty much the same thing: soul, life, breath, self, mind. I use the word personality to separate it from Hellenistic dualism. None of these definitions are scientific.

    2. The immaterial soul is the seat of knowledge.

    3. The immaterial soul is the seat of the will.
    4. The immaterial soul initiates voluntary actions.

    I think 2 is closer to mind, 3 and 4 are the same, and I think you left out emotions. There are other models including Freud’s id, ego, and superego, Skinnerian behaviorism, and others. The field of cognitive neuroscience is developing other models of which I’m not familiar with outside of aspects of Sweller’s Cognitive Load Theory.

    5. The immaterial soul receives information from both hemispheres.
    6. The immaterial soul sends commands to both hemispheres.

    Your personality is like software that operates in all structures of the brain and will have conflicting feelings and motivations that are normally negotiated. Damage to brain structures caused by accidents and psychosurgery (such as prefrontal lobotomy) will indeed interfere with its operation, but hardly disproves the existence of an immaterial personality/psyche/soul.

    I’m familiar with the dual personality idea through the book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (which I enjoyed a lot), but I understand that recent brain activity experiments indicate that the left-right brain split has been overstated.

  297. 297
    Querius says:

    Elizabeth,

    Let’s say an atheist stops valuing the welfare of others for some reason. However, you fit that atheist with a hi-tech gadget that gives her an electric shock every time she does something mean. As a result, even though she still doesn’t value the welfare of others one jot, she values not being shocked quite a lot, so she isn’t mean.

    Is she now more moral?

    Yes. And wow, what a great idea! It might make you a nervous wreck, though. 🙂

    If we now believe that photosynthesis utilizes quantum effects, and that strings vibrate in all (typically) 10 dimensions, of which only four are currently available to science, and that something we call “dark energy” is responsible for inflation, how can you be absolutely certain that real phenomena can exist only in our four dimensions or not at all?

    Regarding God…if God exists, would it be possible that God could hide from you physically, statistically, or otherwise, so that you could not devise any experiment, test, or device that might “out” God?

    Conversely, if you really wanted to encounter God, what would you do? And how would you expect God to interact with you? With electric shocks or some other coercion?

    Just asking.

  298. 298
    bornagain77 says:

    Now Querius, I hate to be the one to inform you, but keiths is allowed to set up a straw man definition of soul and knock it down.,,, That’s just the way it is. I know you may think you this is unfair but keiths assures us that it isn’t. He is keiths by the way! Moreover, keiths is also allowed to ignore all evidence from quantum mechanics to the contrary because that is just the way it is:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-463502

    Non-Local Quantum Entanglement establishes empirical evidence for the transcendent soul
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-460656

    I know, I know, Querius you may say keiths being able to set up straw men and ignore all contradictory evidence is not the way things are done in science, but you see Querius, keiths has been granted special status in science because of his superior intellect so as to to do as he wishes, whenever he wishes, so that he can prove anything he wants to prove in science. Sorry to have to be the one to inform you, but that is just how the way things are done now. The sooner you accept it the better, I can assure you! 🙂

  299. 299
    Chris Doyle says:

    Morning Lizzie, if the atheistic worldview is true, then that is what I mean by atheistic morality. If the theistic worldview is true, then that is what I mean by theistic morality. I hope that clears that up.

    If you stop valuing the welfare of others, morality stops, period, doesn’t matter whether you are a theist or an atheist.

    Now this is not wholly true. It stops for atheists yes (unless they get an electric shock every time they do “something mean”). But not theists.

    This is important now: in post 292, I talk about circles of care and how they are different for everyone, some are big, some are small, some are non-existent. Do you agree that morality stops for people outside the circle of care, the people whose welfare you don’t value?

    Now then, in answer to your question: Is (someone who gets an electric shock everytime they do “something mean”) now more moral?

    Theistically-speaking, that would all be a bit too easy of course! But, if the atheistic worldview is true, then the answer to your question is yes. Because it means they perform less immoral acts than they otherwise would have done, so they are now more moral. Fit another device which deposits significant sums of money in their bank account every time they do “something nice” then they will become more moral again, simply because they are performing more moral acts than they otherwise would have done. But again, theistically speaking, that would all be too easy.

    The problem for atheistic morality is: if you don’t care about someone, and if you don’t get shocked when you are immoral, and you don’t get financial reward when you are moral, then you are left with no reason whatsoever to be moral. “Morality stops, period”.

    Agreed, Lizzie?

    In fact, rational self-interest will tend towards immoral acts because there will be no need to resist temptation any more. But one step at a time!

  300. 300
    Chris Doyle says:

    By the way, Lizzie, I will respond to your comments about the immaterial soul: I haven’t finalised my thoughts yet… too sunny!

  301. 301

    Querius:

    I’m not sure I understand the import of your questions, but I’ll attempt to answer:

    If we now believe that photosynthesis utilizes quantum effects, and that strings vibrate in all (typically) 10 dimensions, of which only four are currently available to science, and that something we call “dark energy” is responsible for inflation, how can you be absolutely certain that real phenomena can exist only in our four dimensions or not at all?

    I can’t be, and I’m not.

    Regarding God…if God exists, would it be possible that God could hide from you physically, statistically, or otherwise, so that you could not devise any experiment, test, or device that might “out” God?

    Yes indeed.

    Conversely, if you really wanted to encounter God, what would you do?

    Pray.

    And how would you expect God to interact with you? With electric shocks or some other coercion?

    As the proverbial Still Small Voice, would be my best guess.

    Just asking.

    Not exactly sure why 🙂

    Can you elaborate?

  302. 302

    Chris:

    The problem for atheistic morality is: if you don’t care about someone, and if you don’t get shocked when you are immoral, and you don’t get financial reward when you are moral, then you are left with no reason whatsoever to be moral. “Morality stops, period”.

    As I keep saying, Chris, I don’t accept that this is “atheistic morality”. It’s morality.

    And if you don’t value someone’s welfare, then that is immoral, as we agree.

    You may treat them better if given some external motivation to do so – a hi-tech gadget, but I would argue that you are not behaving more morally now, you are just doing less harm.

    However, I’m happy to stipulate for the purposes of this argument, that if an atheist doesn’t value another person’s welfare, they won’t treat them well, unless we punish or reward them for it.

    So now will you tell me what happens in theism?

  303. 303

    Querius

    I’m familiar with the dual personality idea through the book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (which I enjoyed a lot), but I understand that recent brain activity experiments indicate that the left-right brain split has been overstated.

    I love that book!

    I agree that the left-right specialisation has been overstated (the book works, but not quite in the way the author thinks). However, that is not keiths point. In fact, were it not for the fact that most mental processes involve substantially bilateral brain activity, then a severed corpus callosum would be completely disastrous.

    But what keiths is talking about is a patient in whom the connection between the two hemispheres has been severed. Because most functions are substantially bilateral, each “half” has fairly well preserved function (apart from lack of speech for the right hemisphere, as in most people, speech is strongly left-lateralized).

    And, as keiths says, the two hemispheres now start “thinking” independently, and behave much more like two people – much more like the two girls with two whole brains, but one body I linked to earlier.

    I’m sure every soul advocate here would agree that Abigail and Brittany have a soul each.

    And a split brain person can behave much as Abigail and Brittany do, except that one “person” can’t talk.

    So two “souls” seems to me a reasonable proposition for that scenario too.

    Except that Abigail and Brittany have been separate since shortly after conception, whereas the two apparent “people” in a split brain person separated only after surgery in adulthoood.

    That seems to be the core of the conundrum keiths is posing. I don’t think its insoluble for the soul-hypothesis, but I do think it is a considerable challenge!

    Indeed I think it is a challenge for the concept of “personhood”, as are Abigail and Brittany, who seem like two wonderful girls.

  304. 304
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi Lizzie,

    You said:

    So now will you tell me what happens in theism?

    We’re certainly getting there! Now, for the sake of argument, let me rephrase the conclusion without reference to “atheistic morality”.

    Do you now agree, that whenever an atheist doesn’t value someone else’s welfare, then they have no reason to behave morally towards those they don’t care about (unless they are rewarded for it or punished for behaving immorally towards them)?

  305. 305
  306. 306
    Chris Doyle says:

    Two last steps, Lizzie: first, let’s assume atheism is true. Take an atheist (we’ll call him Al). Take someone else whose welfare that atheist doesn’t value (we’ll call her Jane). Suppose that Al could perform a moral act, which will be detrimental to his own self-interest, but will help Jane somehow. Now, we agree that Al has no reason to behave morally toward Jane.

    Therefore, if he is acting rationally, he will not perform a moral act which is detrimental to his own self-interest, for the sake of Jane because he simply doesn’t value her welfare. Morality fails. Do you agree?

    Secondly, we will again assume atheism is true. We will again take Al, who still doesn’t care about Jane. Now, let’s suppose that Al could perform an immoral act, which will promote his own self-interest, but will be detrimental to Jane’s self-interest. Further, suppose that Al has very good reasons to believe that he will escape any form of punishing consequences for performing this immoral act. He stands only to be rewarded for doing it. I hope you will also agree that Al has good reason to behave immorally toward Jane.

    Therefore, if he is acting rationally, he will perform an immoral act which promotes his own self-interest, even if it is detrimental to Jane’s self-interest because he simply doesn’t value her welfare. Morality fails. Do you agree?

  307. 307
    Mark Frank says:

    Chris – I hope you will be as patient and good-tempered as Lizzie when her turn comes to ask you questions about morality for a theist. I suggest she should be allowed to ask as many questions as you have and expect an answer.

  308. 308
    Proton says:

    @Chris #306

    You have a point, however, you’re underestimating, or downright dismissing completely, human empathy.

    All of us have empathy, which leads to worry about others (even strangers), and therefore to behave morally to them, regardless of whether we fear punishment or not.

    We behave morally mainly because our empathy makes us feel bad if we don’t.

    Fear of punishment just gives an extra push towards morality, but it’s not the source of it.

  309. 309
    keiths says:

    Proton,

    You’ve missed the earlier part of the discussion. Chris is posing hypotheticals based on the assumption that the atheist doesn’t value the welfare of others generally, or certain others specifically.

  310. 310
    Chris Doyle says:

    Proton, let’s see what Lizzie’s responses are before you and I start.

    In the meantime, ask yourself: are you claiming that everyone has empathy for everybody else all the time? Are you even claiming that empathy always outweighs anything else?

  311. 311
    Chris Doyle says:

    Yeah, thanks Keith!

  312. 312
    keiths says:

    bornagain77,

    Now Querius, I hate to be the one to inform you, but keiths is allowed to set up a straw man definition of soul and knock it down.,,, That’s just the way it is.

    BA,

    If my definition of the soul is a strawman, you should be able to tell us why. Which of my assumptions do you disagree with?

    Assume that:

    1. There is an immaterial soul.
    2. The immaterial soul is the seat of knowledge.
    3. The immaterial soul is the seat of the will.
    4. The immaterial soul initiates voluntary actions.
    4. The immaterial soul receives information from both hemispheres.
    5. The immaterial soul sends commands to both hemispheres.

    I look forward to your evasions.

  313. 313
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    None of what you mention in your comment is relevant.

    I am addressing my argument to those who believe in an immaterial soul (or mind, or spirit, or whatever you want to call it) that thinks, knows, believes, desires, and chooses, that can carry out its choices via the body, and that is therefore morally responsible for a person’s actions. Most Christians believe in a soul of this type. Chris Doyle, who is not a Christian, does also.

    If you have a different concept of the immaterial soul (or whatever word you prefer to use for that entity or group of entities), then spell it out and we can determine whether it fits the split-brain observations. I suspect that it won’t, based on your earlier comments, but we’ll see.

  314. 314
    LarTanner says:

    keiths@312,

    Your assumptions fail to account for the dozens of videos posted to vimeo where earnest folks from the US heartland tell their NDE tales.

    Ergo, Allah.

    Words and music:
    “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You want to Rock ‘n’ Roll)”

  315. 315

    Chris:

    Two last steps, Lizzie: first, let’s assume atheism is true. Take an atheist (we’ll call him Al). Take someone else whose welfare that atheist doesn’t value (we’ll call her Jane). Suppose that Al could perform a moral act, which will be detrimental to his own self-interest, but will help Jane somehow. Now, we agree that Al has no reason to behave morally toward Jane.

    Therefore, if he is acting rationally, he will not perform a moral act which is detrimental to his own self-interest, for the sake of Jane because he simply doesn’t value her welfare. Morality fails. Do you agree?

    With the proviso that his devaluation of Jane’s welfare may itself be irrational, yes.

    Secondly, we will again assume atheism is true. We will again take Al, who still doesn’t care about Jane. Now, let’s suppose that Al could perform an immoral act, which will promote his own self-interest, but will be detrimental to Jane’s self-interest. Further, suppose that Al has very good reasons to believe that he will escape any form of punishing consequences for performing this immoral act. He stands only to be rewarded for doing it. I hope you will also agree that Al has good reason to behave immorally toward Jane.

    For certain meanings of “good”, yes. I’d simply omit the “good”.

    Therefore, if he is acting rationally, he will perform an immoral act which promotes his own self-interest, even if it is detrimental to Jane’s self-interest because he simply doesn’t value her welfare. Morality fails. Do you agree?

    Yes.

  316. 316
  317. 317
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, that is the thanks I get for defending your more evolved brain’s right to redefine science in a way so that it serves your own purposes? Or are you one of though evil intellectual tyrants that is indifferent to both those who recognize your genius and those who don’t?,,, So much for trying to butter your more evolved big brain up with random acts of kindness!.

  318. 318
    bornagain77 says:

    Now keiths, in my hope of getting into good favor with your towering genius, I know a good place we can send your rigorous proof for the non-existence of the soul to so as to crush the last remnants of hope of those who believe in the possibility of life after death. Thomas Nagel!

    “I have argued patiently against the prevailing form of naturalism, a reductive materialism that purports to capture life and mind through its neo-Darwinian extension.” “…, I find this view antecedently unbelievable—a heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense”.
    Thomas Nagel – “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False” – pg.128
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/produ.....rn_si_1_im

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt: Neo-Darwinism insists that every phenomenon, every species, every trait of every species, is the consequence of random chance, as natural selection requires. And yet, Nagel says, “certain things are so remarkable that they have to be explained as non-accidental if we are to pretend to a real understanding of the world.”
    Among these remarkable, nonaccidental things are many of the features of the manifest image. Consciousness itself, for example: You can’t explain consciousness in evolutionary terms, Nagel says, without undermining the explanation itself. Evolution easily accounts for rudimentary kinds of awareness. Hundreds of thousands of years ago on the African savannah, where the earliest humans evolved the unique characteristics of our species, the ability to sense danger or to read signals from a potential mate would clearly help an organism survive.
    So far, so good. But the human brain can do much more than this. It can perform calculus, hypothesize metaphysics, compose music—even develop a theory of evolution. None of these higher capacities has any evident survival value, certainly not hundreds of thousands of years ago when the chief aim of mental life was to avoid getting eaten. Could our brain have developed and sustained such nonadaptive abilities by the trial and error of natural selection, as neo-Darwinism insists? It’s possible, but the odds, Nagel says, are “vanishingly small.” If Nagel is right, the materialist is in a pickle. The conscious brain that is able to come up with neo-Darwinism as a universal explanation simultaneously makes neo-Darwinism, as a universal explanation, exceedingly unlikely.,,,
    ,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    Doubting Darwinism (From Nagel) – JP Moreland, PhD
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bcne7_DXv4c

    The keiths, once we can get Nagel to capitulate to your stunning intellectual prowess, then those pesky problems that are present in quantum mechanics should be no problem! And our quest to crush any hope of a after life will be complete (cue evil laugh)

    Free Will and Consciousness defended by Quantum Mechanics
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-453600

    Supplemental note:

    The Atheist’s Guide to Intellectual Suicide – James N. Anderson PhD. – video
    https://vimeo.com/60437420

  319. 319
    keiths says:

    Still avoiding the question, BA?

    BA,

    If my definition of the soul is a strawman, you should be able to tell us why. Which of my assumptions do you disagree with?

    Assume that:

    1. There is an immaterial soul.
    2. The immaterial soul is the seat of knowledge.
    3. The immaterial soul is the seat of the will.
    4. The immaterial soul initiates voluntary actions.
    4. The immaterial soul receives information from both hemispheres.
    5. The immaterial soul sends commands to both hemispheres.

    I look forward to your evasions.

  320. 320
    bornagain77 says:

    Hey LarTanner:

    Although you mocked those millions of NDE’s as proof of life after death, the fact of the matter is that those millions of life changing NDEs are millions of times more observational evidence that Theism is true than the observational evidence that neo-Darwinism is true is, which is never,,

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species (or origin of life, or a molecular machine, or a protein), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    “A recent analysis of several hundred cases showed that 48% of near-death experiencers reported seeing their physical bodies from a different visual perspective. Many of them also reported witnessing events going on in the vicinity of their body, such as the attempts of medical personnel to resuscitate them (Kelly et al., 2007).”
    Kelly, E. W., Greyson, B., & Kelly, E. F. (2007). Unusual experiences near death and related phenomena. In E. F. Kelly, E. W. Kelly, A. Crabtree, A. Gauld, M. Grosso, & B. Greyson, Irreducible mind (pp. 367-421). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    verse and music:

    Romans 1:18-23
    The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
    For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

    A special song for our soulless Darwinbots:

    Red – Feed The Machine
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj2uZO7xnus

  321. 321
    bornagain77 says:

    Now keiths, why are you trying to get little ole dumb me to answer your questions? I told you we need to get that nifty unimpeachable proof to the esteemed Nagel so as to stop his heresies and to thus more effectively crush this nonsense of a transcendent component to man.! ,,, You act like I’m mocking your genius or something when I’m trying to help you spread the word on your Nobel winning proof???

  322. 322
    keiths says:

    BA77,

    Now keiths, why are you trying to get little ole dumb me to answer your questions?

    Because “little ole dumb you” made the claim in the first place:

    Now Querius, I hate to be the one to inform you, but keiths is allowed to set up a straw man definition of soul and knock it down.,,, That’s just the way it is.

    Can you back it up, or will you embarrass yourself again? How is my definition a straw man, BA? What would you substitute in its place?

  323. 323
    keiths says:

    By the way, BA77, keep putting your eggs in Nagel’s basket.

    You’ll see why, later.

  324. 324
    bornagain77 says:

    Now, Now, keiths I, a mere mortal, would not dare try to embarrass myself against such an unimpeachable proof against the transcendent soul that you, a super-genius, have presented. Anyone with half a brain, (or is that a split brain?), can see that such resistance is foolish and futile. Even any rigorous proof presented to you from quantum mechanics itself cannot stand against your impeccable reasoning abilities, but such seemingly rigorous proof will only melt away at the glaze of your all seeing eyes.

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

    “I’m going to talk about the Bell inequality, and more importantly a new inequality that you might not have heard of called the Leggett inequality, that was recently measured. It was actually formulated almost 30 years ago by Professor Leggett, who is a Nobel Prize winner, but it wasn’t tested until about a year and a half ago (in 2007), when an article appeared in Nature, that the measurement was made by this prominent quantum group in Vienna led by Anton Zeilinger, which they measured the Leggett inequality, which actually goes a step deeper than the Bell inequality and rules out any possible interpretation other than consciousness creates reality when the measurement is made.” – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D., Calphysics Institute, is an astrophysicist and author of over 130 scientific publications.

    Preceding quote taken from this following video;

    Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness – A New Measurement – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D (Shortened version of entire video with notes in description of video)
    http://vimeo.com/37517080

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

    please note the extreme level of certainty to which this finding is confirmed:

    Do we create the world just by looking at it? – 2008
    Excerpt: In mid-2007 Fedrizzi found that the new realism model was violated by 80 orders of magnitude; the group was even more assured that quantum mechanics was correct.
    http://seedmagazine.com/conten....._tests/P3/

    And although I am not quite sure what it means to violate something by ’80 orders of magnitude’, (I suspect it is a very good level of certainty since the universe ‘only’ has 80 orders of magnitude subatomic particles in it), the following test went beyond even that 10^80 level of certainty:

    A simple approach to test Leggett’s model of nonlocal quantum correlations – 2009
    Excerpt of Abstract: Bell’s strong sentence “Correlations cry out for explanations” remains relevant,,,we go beyond Leggett’s model, and show that one cannot ascribe even partially defined individual properties to the components of a maximally entangled pair.
    http://www.mendeley.com/resear.....relations/

    But to see how much confidence we can put in these quantum experiments, I was able to find another ballpark figure for how confident we can be that ‘transcendent’ quantum non-locality is real:

    Closing the last Bell-test loophole for photons – June 11, 2013
    Excerpt: that confirmed quantum entanglement to nearly 70 standard deviations.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2013-06-b.....otons.html

    The following articles gives us a small glimpse as to what it truly means for entanglement to be confirmed to an order of ’70 standard deviations’:

    Standard deviation
    Excerpt: Particle physics uses a standard of “5 sigma” for the declaration of a discovery.[3] At five-sigma there is only one chance in nearly two million that a random fluctuation would yield the result.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....le_physics

    SSDD: a 22 sigma event is consistent with the physics of fair coins? – June 23, 2013
    Excerpt: So 500 coins heads is (500-250)/11 = 22 standard deviations (22 sigma) from expectation! These numbers are so extreme, it’s probably inappropriate to even use the normal distribution’s approximation of the binomial distribution, and hence “22 sigma” just becomes a figure of speech in this extreme case…
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....air-coins/

    That means we can have more confidence than we can even reasonably imagine that these findings for a ‘Theistic’ universe are correct. Thus as far as any supposed conflict between science and faith, it appears atheistic/materialistic religion is the one left holding the bag requiring its believers to have ‘blind faith’ with no real evidence that it is true:

  325. 325
    bornagain77 says:

    Where this non-local, ‘outside space and time’, quantum entanglement gains traction within molecular biology as to firmly establishing a transcendent soul for each man is here. Quantum entanglement/information has now been found within molecular biology on a massive scale:

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – Elisabeth Rieper – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    Quantum entanglement between the electron clouds of nucleic acids in DNA – Elisabeth Rieper, Janet Anders and Vlatko Vedral – February 2011
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxi.....4053v2.pdf

    It turns out, besides DNA, that non-local quantum entanglement/information has been confirmed to be deeply embedded in protein structures as well;

    Coherent Intrachain energy migration at room temperature – Elisabetta Collini and Gregory Scholes – University of Toronto – Science, 323, (2009), pp. 369-73
    Excerpt: The authors conducted an experiment to observe quantum coherence dynamics in relation to energy transfer. The experiment, conducted at room temperature, examined chain conformations, such as those found in the proteins of living cells. Neighbouring molecules along the backbone of a protein chain were seen to have coherent energy transfer. Where this happens quantum decoherence (the underlying tendency to loss of coherence due to interaction with the environment) is able to be resisted, and the evolution of the system remains entangled as a single quantum state.
    http://www.scimednet.org/quant.....d-protein/

    Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding – February 22, 2011
    Quantum mechanics finally explains why protein folding depends on temperature in such a strange way.
    Excerpt: First, a little background on protein folding. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that become biologically active only when they fold into specific, highly complex shapes. The puzzle is how proteins do this so quickly when they have so many possible configurations to choose from.
    To put this in perspective, a relatively small protein of only 100 amino acids can take some 10^100 different configurations. If it tried these shapes at the rate of 100 billion a second, it would take longer than the age of the universe to find the correct one. Just how these molecules do the job in nanoseconds, nobody knows.,,,
    Their astonishing result is that this quantum transition model fits the folding curves of 15 different proteins and even explains the difference in folding and unfolding rates of the same proteins.
    That’s a significant breakthrough. Luo and Lo’s equations amount to the first universal laws of protein folding. That’s the equivalent in biology to something like the thermodynamic laws in physics.
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....f-protein/

    Moreover, These following studies indicate that quantum information cannot be destroyed (i.e. quantum information is found to be ‘conserved’)

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time – March 2011
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    Quantum no-deleting theorem
    Excerpt: A stronger version of the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem provide permanence to quantum information. To create a copy one must import the information from some part of the universe and to delete a state one needs to export it to another part of the universe where it will continue to exist.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....onsequence

    semi-related note:

    The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings – Steve Talbott
    Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary.
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-of-beings

    clear implications of all this?

    Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – Stuart Hameroff – video (notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/29895068

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness (Permanence of Quantum Information)- Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video
    https://vimeo.com/39982578

  326. 326
    bornagain77 says:

    So as you can see keiths, the case against your split-brain argument is not nearly as strong as it may appear. But one thing at a time. Let’s see if we can get your split-brain proof to Nagel, then tomorrow the quantum world (cue evil laugh)

    Supplemental note

    Divinely Planted Quantum States – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCTBygadaM4#t=156s

    Verse and music:

    John 3:12
    I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

    High School Musical 2 – You are the music in me
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAXaQrh7m1o

  327. 327
    keiths says:

    BA77,

    No amount of spam will cover up the fact that you cannot back up your claim.

  328. 328
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, you are under the mistaken impression that I challenged your straw man argument, I did not, I fully acknowledged your more evolved brain’s right to tailor science to meet your on a priori beliefs and chastised those who took exception to your right. Seems that someone with such intellectual prowess as yourself would pick up on that.

  329. 329
    keiths says:

    BA77:

    keiths, you are under the mistaken impression that I challenged your straw man argument, I did not…

    You can’t spam your way out of this one, bornagain:

    keiths, actually only your strawman version of soul, which you personally set up and knocked down, is relevant to what you hold. No one else has signed onto your strawman version and thus no one else, save you, is persuaded by your self fulfilling successful argument you have made.

    So let’s hear it, BA. How is my “version” of the soul a strawman? Which of these assumptions do you disagree with?

    Assume that:

    1. There is an immaterial soul.
    2. The immaterial soul is the seat of knowledge.
    3. The immaterial soul is the seat of the will.
    4. The immaterial soul initiates voluntary actions.
    5. The immaterial soul receives information from both hemispheres.
    6. The immaterial soul sends commands to both hemispheres.

    [corrected numbering]

  330. 330
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths, this is frankly quite embarrassing that your more evolved brain can’t pick this up. I agree completely that your straw man argument is unimpeachable and would not dare try to refute it (please don’t try to make me as I have some dignity though I am not nearly as smart as you). I even told some foolish person who challenged you that you are allowed to operate this way in science because of your superior brain power. And here you are claiming that I see fault in your irrefutable logic proving the non-existence of the soul. Far from it! I’m your ally! What I’m plotting now is how can we increase the scope of your intellectual influence past this paltry website so as to shut down all the great monotheistic religions in the world that believe in souls and thus convert the world to the true religion of militant atheism where every man is a god unto himself. (cue evil laugh).

    PINKY AND THE BRAIN theme song
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYXBzE-Cpec

  331. 331
    Chris Doyle says:

    Ah, Lizzie, we’ve stumbled at the last hurdle. All we needed was two simple, unqualified, unambiguous “yes” responses and we would have actually reached significant agreement and made genuine progress. But then, you added dodgy smallprint.

    Oh well, Mark will be sorely disappointed, he’s just itching to talk about his favourite subject: how much he hates religion!

    The first proviso you inserted in the scenario I described was that “devaluating” someone else’s welfare “may itself be irrational”. Actually, the opposite is true. Placing value on the welfare of someone you don’t care about it irrational in the scenario I described. In fact, the less people inside your circle of care, the less people you have to worry about and the more people are there for the taking. So, let’s be clear, there is nothing irrational about devaluing someone else’s welfare, especially a stranger’s. It is irrational to devalue your own welfare, it may even be irrational to devalue the welfare of people in your circle of care. But everyone else? There is no reason whatsoever to value their welfare in the scenario I described. Our atheist, Al, is being perfectly rational in devaluing the welfare of Jane. Until you accept that Lizzie, in an unqualified, unambiguous, proviso-free manner, we can go no further.

    The second proviso was less troublesome, but still unacceptable. You have a problem accepting that there are “very good” reasons to believe that any punishing consequences can be entirely avoided. A very good reason is simply one that applies flawless logic, based on sound judgment, an exhaustive rational analysis and full knowledge of the available empirical data. In the scenario, Al won’t be caught, so he won’t be punished. And he certainly won’t punish himself: he doesn’t care about Jane one single bit. So why seek other meanings for the word “good”? Indeed, why seek to remove it altogether? Al is totally rational, he is perhaps the most rational atheist alive: his reasoning is more than good: it is irresistible. Again, if you can’t agree with this, then we’ve hit another dead-end.

  332. 332
    Querius says:

    Elizabeth,

    As the proverbial Still Small Voice, would be my best guess.

    Just asking.

    Not exactly sure why 🙂

    Can you elaborate?

    Sure. I’ve found that a lot of people who aggressively find fault with the concept of God, would not be willing to encounter God under any circumstances. They find a simplistic rationale that they cannot be argued out of, but there usually some other reason behind their arguments. It might be bitterness over something or a fear that even a loving God would “cramp their style.” Or whatever.

    What saddens me is people who’ve been intimidated or intellectually bullied out of their faith by scientific “facts” that eventually turn out to be not true after all, or need to be revised significantly. To me, Science is not a series of static facts, but rather a methodical way of gaining a better understanding of nature, and this understanding is being continually and endlessly modified–as it should be.

    I delight in observing and discovering things in nature, whether it’s growing hydra that are amazingly long (9-10 cm), going “small game hunting” with my B&L binocular dissection microscope, or observing that a horned lizard angles its flattened body toward the sun in the morning. One of my most memorable experiences was observing the incredible beauty in the parts of a tiny Stellaria media flower in a botony class.

    My relationship with God is personal and profoundly wonderful, while my involvement in Science is driven by my insatiable curiosity. To me, there’s no conflict and I prefer to follow the data, even when the path is twisty. I also assume that there’s an intelligent design behind what I observe, and I’d like to find out what it is! 🙂

    Incidentally, did you know that one of the earliest accounts of a scientific experiment is recorded in the Book of Daniel, which was probably written five or six hundred years before Christ? It involved a vegetarian diet and included a control group. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, they were at least as smart as we are, and they didn’t have daytime TV!

  333. 333

    OK, Chris, to please you, I will retract that proviso.

    Now, will you answer my questions?

  334. 334

    Querius: Thanks for your post at 332. Very lovely.

  335. 335
    Chris Doyle says:

    Doesn’t sound very sincere, Lizzie. Let’s put it to the test: are we now in unequivocal, proviso-free, no-small-print agreement that in the perfectly rational and understandable absence of value for the welfare of others, morality fails if atheism is true?

  336. 336
  337. 337

    Note that I have not agreed that devaluing the welfare of other human beings is necessarily rational. I have merely stipulated that it can be, and in that case, agreed that morality fails.

    Now, please tell me why, and how, under theism, in an identical scenario, it doesn’t.

  338. 338
    Querius says:

    Elizabeth,

    But what keiths is talking about is a patient in whom the connection between the two hemispheres has been severed. Because most functions are substantially bilateral, each “half” has fairly well preserved function.

    Except that Abigail and Brittany have been separate since shortly after conception, whereas the two apparent “people” in a split brain person separated only after surgery in adulthoood.

    That seems to be the core of the conundrum keiths is posing. I don’t think its insoluble for the soul-hypothesis, but I do think it is a considerable challenge!

    Keiths seems stuck on Hellenistic dualism, apparently not having read my explanations to him of the difference in meaning of the word soul in the Tanach and in the New Testament. Soul means a living being or as I prefer, a personality. The Bible also refers to people having a “spirit, soul, and body.”

    Keiths attempts to reason that

    If a separate personality exists in each hemisphere in a damaged brain, they must also exist in a normal brain, thus disproving existence of an immaterial personality.

    Huh?

    We know that in a normal brain, several competing impulses are ultimately negotiated and fused into a single response. It’s obvious that in a damaged brain, in this case one with a severed corpus callosum, this negotiated fusing does not take place. Also consider the effect of a prefrontal lobotomy in this context. Regardless of whether this state should be considered two distinct personalities (not to mention dissociative identity disorder), it does not disprove the concept of an immaterial personality.

    This is why Keiths never was able to answer my original question to him.

    So, in any case, I see Abigail and Brittany as a significant (and interesting) challenge only for cognitive neuroscience.

  339. 339
    Chris Doyle says:

    Wow. Finally. You actually admitted it! I honestly never thought we’d get there. Thank-you very much, Lizzie.

    I shall go about my busy day with an even bigger smile on my face 🙂

    Okay, onto theistic morality… ask away. Just about to get off the train and will be offline for most of the day, so may not be able to respond until this evening.

  340. 340
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    Keiths attempts to reason that

    If a separate personality exists in each hemisphere in a damaged brain, they must also exist in a normal brain, thus disproving existence of an immaterial personality.

    Who are you quoting here? It certainly isn’t me, as I claim nothing of the sort.

  341. 341

    I wouldn’t, get too excited Chris.

    I’ll explain why it’s no big deal when you finally answer my question.

    Unless your answer turns out to be very surprising.

    But I do wish you a happy day anyway 🙂

  342. 342
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    I’ve presented a direct and explicit argument. How about responding to it, rather than to your unrecognizable caricature of my views?

  343. 343
    Querius says:

    Keiths,

    Oh goody, then you can answer my original question to you:

    Why do you think that the fact that we can have significant conflicts within our personality (i.e. soul), as demonstrated by your left-right brain examples of brain-damaged individuals, disproves the existence of a non-material soul?

  344. 344
    Mark Frank says:

    Chris

    Oh well, Mark will be sorely disappointed, he’s just itching to talk about his favourite subject: how much he hates religion!

    I do not hate religion. It has often been a great boon to society. I just think it is inadequate account of morality and by trying to make it a basis of morality you are forced into a cynical and uncompassionate view of humanity.

    May I remind you that way back in #232 you wrote:

    To be honest with you, I can’t wait to talk about it: I’m sincerely sick and tired of flogging the dead horse that is atheistic morality!

    In the interim you have done nothing but flog that dead horse.

  345. 345
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    Already answered.

    Though I suspect that you’ll continue to deny that, since you apparently can’t rebut my argument and are desperately avoiding it.

  346. 346

    keiths,

    The soul initiates voluntary actions; it is up to the brain and body to complete them, which is where mechanical difficulties and other influences may cause problems, such as the results in your split-hemisphere scenarios.

    Also, since conjoined twins like Abby and Brittany occupy one body, it’s hardly a stretch to consider that two different souls might inhabit a single brain. This is addressed in many different religions and spiritualities under terms like possession and channeling, and other spiritualities that include the belief that many souls can inhabit one body.

    Your argument against the soul cannot be made on purely logical grounds, because it requires a functional understanding of what soul is and how it operates through physical medium. So, you have taken a convenient set of characteristics, and a convenient concept of the soul-brain relationship for your argument.

    Your argument is dependent upon several unaddressed assumptions – that souls are limited to one personality; that bodies and brains are limited to one inhabiting/operating soul; that the soul is directly connected to the brain without any interface that itself could “malfunction” or could be subject to other influences and produce the effects you cite; that what the soul “wills” is accurately translated into action/behavior.

    You don’t really have much of an argument at all; what you have is, essentially, a straw man argument that addresses a very unsophisticated, unexamined, childish concept of what a soul is and how it interacts with the physical.

  347. 347

    WJM:

    Also, since conjoined twins like Abby and Brittany occupy one body, it’s hardly a stretch to consider that two different souls might inhabit a single brain.

    I’m sure keiths would accept that as a solution, WJM. I’m just not sure most others would.

    Does anyone else agree that a split-brain person could have two different souls?

    I would agree that split-brain patients don’t pose a problem for the soul-concept if that concept can include the creation of two souls where before there was only one.

    To the extent that I accept the concept of an immaterial soul, I would agree – but then I think that the mind/will/”I” is an emergent property of an organism, not something that “possesses” it, that is probably the limit of our agreement!

  348. 348

    You don’t really have much of an argument at all; what you have is, essentially, a straw man argument that addresses a very unsophisticated, unexamined, childish concept of what a soul is and how it interacts with the physical.

    This seems unfair to me, William. I don’t think keiths’ is a straw man at all – i.e. a concept that nobody promotes. It may not be your concept (which does allow for more than one soul to inhabit a brain, or what was a single brain), but there seem to me to have been a number of people with a rather different concept, and who seem to reject that idea.

    You are the first poster I’ve read (I could have missed some) to propose such a solution.

    I’d be interested to know how many people agree with you.

    You also write:

    Your argument against the soul cannot be made on purely logical grounds, because it requires a functional understanding of what soul is and how it operates through physical medium. So, you have taken a convenient set of characteristics, and a convenient concept of the soul-brain relationship for your argument.

    I would agree that any logical defence of the soul “requires a functional understanding of what soul is and how it operates through physical medium.”

    I think that’s exactly what keiths’ is challenging soul-defenders to present. I would certainly like to see such a presentation. My only objection to the concept of a soul is that its promoters generally do not provide such a functional account. Would you like to try? I’d be delighted to read such a defense, either here, or as a TSZ post if you like (or both).

  349. 349

    I don’t have an understanding of the functional relationship between a soul and the body. I have a useful conceptualization of it, but it’s not one I hold to be true. My belief in the soul is not based on evidence.

    I’m just pointing out the flaws in keiths argument.

    I think that, like most atheists I’ve encountered, keiths argues against those concepts he has prepared material against, most of which depends upon a certain religious view that keiths holds in his mind about what others believe, and has constructed his argument against that, instead of against what others actually say and argue.

    That is why I call it a straw man; he’s not arguing against what others actually say and believe, but rather against what keiths holds in his mind to be what they **must** believe.

    I engaged keiths about this on TSZ, but he dismissed me from the debate because I didn’t have a “conventional” view of god, soul, mind, and body. What I took that to mean was that my theism didn’t comport with any argument he was prepared to make, so he wasn’t going to attempt to address it.

  350. 350

    I would agree that any logical defence of the soul “requires a functional understanding of what soul is and how it operates through physical medium.”

    I never said that any logical defense of the soul ““requires a functional understanding of what soul is and how it operates through physical medium,” so I don’t know who you are agreeing with.

    A logical defense of the soul can be made entirely without any such functional understanding, depending on how one characterizes the “soul”. Soul as a necessary, assumed commodity of the independent free agency of will is entirely defensible via logic.

    Keiths argument, however, assumes things about the soul, mind, brain, body and relationships thereof that fall well outside of the simple logical argument that a locus of independent free will must exist. His argument assumes all sorts of convenient structural arrangements and limitations that not all religions and spiritualities agree with at all.

  351. 351

    As far the idea that keith’s argument addresses conventional or popular views of the soul, do you mean Christian views? Don’t many Christians hold it true that demonic spirits can possess people? That Satan can manipulate things/people to cast doubt in the minds of people? What about speaking in tongues – how does keith’s argument comport with the belief that people can start speaking in languages they do not know and do not understand, and others can recognize what is being said and interpret it?

    I’m sure keith’s argument is quite convincing in his own head, to the point where all evidence to the contrary (mediumship research, OOBEs, NDEs, etc.) is disregarded and he claims:

    The results make perfect sense in terms of “two minds in one skull.” They make no sense at all in terms of the soul.

    The evidence is unambiguous. The “two minds in one skull” hypothesis wins hands down.

    In the face of this kind of evidence (and this is just one piece — there are many others), there is no rational reason to continue believing in the immaterial soul.

    As if “mind” and “soul” are the same thing; as if the only rational reason to believe in the soul is extinguished even if we assume arguendo that two minds inhabit one skull.

    It’s a silly, self-serving argument. Plus, he violates his own “uncertainty principle” when he says “The evidence is unambiguous.” Of course it’s ambiguous. Everything is ambiguous to some degree – according to keiths. He’s demonstrating a little too much faith in the tools and materials of argumentation and evidence that he has elsewhere found flawed and uncertain.

    If keiths really believed in his uncertainty principle, he’d word his posts differently – but, all he is really engaged in is deceptive, self-serving, hypocritical rhetoric.

  352. 352
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi Lizzie,

    Got a quick minute to say: please can you highlight/repeat your question(s).

    Cheers,

    Chris

  353. 353
    Mark Frank says:

    Chris

    Lizzie has priority as she has gone all the work but my first question would be:

    Why do theists behave morally?

  354. 354

    Chris @ 352.

    Sheesh.

    OK, let me ask it afresh, rephrased:

    If, as I agree, an atheist who does not value the wellbeing of Human Being X has no reason to make any personal sacrifice in order to treat X well:

    How is it different for a theist in the same position?

  355. 355
    bornagain77 says:

    WJM states:

    I’m sure keith’s argument is quite convincing in his own head,

    Now Now WJM, here you go, like the other foolish ID person I corrected, trying to say that keiths has no right to make up a straw man argument and knock it down. I thought at least you would be smart enough to see how dumb you are in the light of his towering intellect. In fact WJM, hopefully you will soon come to appreciate this, so great is his power of mind so as to just decree anything contrary to his thinking as false without bothering to address it empirically, that I think we are in the privileged position of actually witnessing the first tangible rock solid scientific proof of solipsism within the mind of keiths!

    Solipsist Humor from Plantinga
    ,,,At a recent Lecture I attended by Philosopher Alvin Plantinga, he warmed up the crowd with a few solipsist jokes.,,,
    FYI, solipsism is the rather odd idea that there is only one individual in the universe and that you are it. Everyone else is just a figment of your imagination.
    1. British philosopher Bertrand Russell was a solipsist for a time (why does that not surprise me?), and he once received a letter from a woman who found his arguments very convincing. Well, I suppose it’s not so hard to convince a figment of your imagination that your arguments are brilliant. Anyway, the woman commented in her letter that his description of solipsism made a lot of sense and that, “I’m surprised there aren’t more of us.”
    2. Plantinga also told of an accomplished academic who was a well-known solipsist (I forget the guys name). And Plantinga thought it would be fun to meet a real life solipsist, so he went to visit him. He was treated fairly well considering he was only figment. I mean, it’s not a given that a solipsist would feel the need to be polite to his imaginary friends. After a brief conversation, Plantinga left and on the way out one of the man’s assistants said, “We take good care of the professor because when he goes we all go.”
    http://www.fellowtravelerblog......plantinga/

    Now WJM, how I can say this is rock solid proof of solipsism is because keiths, in his unmatched intellectual prowess, denies the validity of the reasoning of other people’s minds and sees no evidence for the mind of God, thus only he exists!!!

    Another interesting argument comes from the leading philosopher and Christian, Alvin Plantinga—he asked, what evidence does anyone have for the existence of other people’s minds? He argued cogently that the evidence for God is just as good as the evidence for other minds; and conversely, if there isn’t any evidence for God, then there is also no evidence that other minds exist—see God and Other Minds, Cornell University Press, repr. 1990.
    http://creation.com/atheism-is-more-rational

    Ergo, only keiths mind exists! WJM, now if you can only give up the futile notion that your mind is just as valid as keiths mind, then I’m sure you can easily see the logic behind the argument that keiths mind is the only mind that exists!

  356. 356
    Joe says:

    Elizabeth:

    I don’t think keiths’ is a straw man at all – i.e. a concept that nobody promotes.

    Well he has been unable or unwilling to provide a reference to support his claim. So that means hios claim has all the trappings of a strawman.

    However you never support your claims either so perhaps you don’t know what a strawman is…

  357. 357
    Joe says:

    Why do theists behave morally?

    So they can get into heaven- how you act in this life determines what happens to you in the next.

  358. 358
    LarTanner says:

    Comment 357 –

    Not all theistic faiths subscribe to a concept of “heaven.” Why do those theists who do not believe in heaven act morally?

  359. 359
    Joe says:

    Who are they LarTanner? And please reference what they do believe in- that should answer the question.

  360. 360

    Joe

    However you never support your claims either so perhaps you don’t know what a strawman is…

    It would seem as though I don’t mean the same by it as you do. I don’t mean “an unsupported claim”. I mean “an attack on an claim no-one has made”.

    Straw man fallacy

  361. 361
    LarTanner says:

    Judaism, as taught to me growing up in conservative/orthodox home, does not subscribe to a concept of heaven as paradise. Some forms of Judaism subscribe rather to a kind of reincarnation.

    Buddhism, Confucianism and other pan-Asian religions don’t necessarily go for a heaven concept. Epicureanism – which is theistic, after all – rejects the idea of an afterlife.

  362. 362
    Joe says:

    Elizabeth,

    keiths cannot support his claim because he made it up. IE it is a strawman.

  363. 363
    Joe says:

    Is Buddhism theistic? How about Confucianism?

    So please what theistic religions do not have a heaven?

  364. 364
    Joe says:

    In what way is Epicureanism theistic?

  365. 365
    LarTanner says:

    Sure, some forms of Buddhism are theistic. Confucianism too, though some may say it isn’t really addressed.

    I get your point, though. Ultimately, you say morality in theism/religion as grounded in some post-death reward.

    I don’t think this holds for Judaism generally, or how it was taught to me, but I get your point.

    Yet I find it strange to think that I should behave in a certain specific way only because I think it will help me gain entrance to paradise after I die.

    Do you perform this kind of cost/benefit analysis all the time in your daily life?

  366. 366
    LarTanner says:

    Epicureanism believes the gods are there, but they take no notice of us. Kind of like deism.

  367. 367
    Joe says:

    Epicurus was a materialist. Judaism- all are beholden to God- God gave us the rules to play by.

    Do you perform this kind of cost/benefit analysis all the time in your daily life?

    Yes, I believe I am responsible for my actions and that my actions have consequences (that need to be considered). And that is one of the main reasons I became a vegitarian.

  368. 368
    LarTanner says:

    Are you disputing that Epicurus was a theist? Why?

    Judaism – Yes, God gave instructions to Israel — so the story goes — but not every person has the same obligations. This does not affect the point you seem to be making, but I mention it just as clarification.

    Are you saying that choosing to be vegetarian is a moral act, that by doing so you will have “points added” to improve your chances of gaining heaven after you die?

  369. 369
    kairosfocus says:

    Polytheism is not theism (including deism in either “European” or “American” [Ben Franklin] forms).

  370. 370
    LarTanner says:

    “Polytheism is not theism”

    Why not?

  371. 371
    Joe says:

    LarTanner:

    Are you disputing that Epicurus was a theist? Why?

    For the reason I provided- ie he was a materialist.

    Are you saying that choosing to be vegetarian is a moral act,

    Absolutely.

    that by doing so you will have “points added” to improve your chances of gaining heaven after you die?

    If doing the right thing gets one to heaven, then yes. Personally that isn’t enough for me to qualify.

  372. 372
    kairosfocus says:

    Theists and grounding morality:

    I’d try this as a baseline, the remark made by Richard Hooker, in his Ecclesiastical Polity in a key passage cited by Locke in his Second Treatise on Civil Government, Ch 2 Sect. 5, to justify liberty and justice in government::

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature [–> by creation], as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty [–> expressed by conscience guided common sense and reinforced through sound teaching from the prophets and apostles, etc] of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80.]

    This has of course been cited and linked endless numbers of times in and around UD, just it has been roundly and willfully ignored by those who obviously do not care to be reasonable, accurate or fair in debate tactics.

    KF

  373. 373
    bornagain77 says:

    Hey LarTanner, I noticed you mocked the testimony of Millions of Nead Death Experience people the other day even though you have ZERO observational evidence that material processes can generate even one molecular machine:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-463912

    Why the hypocritical double standard as far as the evidence goes? i.e. Why don’t you also ridicule Darwinian evolution since it has far less evidence than Near Death Experiences do?

  374. 374
    Mark Frank says:

    Joe #357

    me: Why do theists behave morally?

    Joe: So they can get into heaven- how you act in this life determines what happens to you in the next.

    So your reasons for being moral do not ultimately come down to consideration for others. The come down to the benefit to you in the long term. In fact if someone was able to prove to you that you had misunderstood the Christian teaching (why not – we are all fallible) and being moral did not get you to heaven you would have no reason to be moral (or as Chris would put it morality fails).

  375. 375

    Oh, do stop assuming things about people, KF!

    I like your passage. Thank you for presenting it.

    Let me offer another, this from Einstein, and his understanding of the cosmos:

    A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.

  376. 376
    kairosfocus says:

    No, Dr Liddle, it is time you and your ilk learned some basic discussion duties of care and took them seriously. KF

  377. 377
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    The only frame of mind which can provide direct support for moral commitment is what Josiah Royce called Loyalty, and what Christians call Love (Charity) [caritas, agape]. This is a commitment deeper than any commitment to abstract principle. It is this commitment to the well-being of our fellow man which stands to the justification of moral principles as the purpose of acquiring the ability to explain and predict stands to the justification of scientific theories. . . . the ability to love others for their own sake is as essential to a full life as the need to feel ourselves loved and appreciated for our own sake — unconditionally, and not as something turned on or off depending on what we do. This fact provides, for those who acknowledge it, a means-end relationship around which can be built practical reasoning which justifies a course of action designed to strengthen our ability to respond to the needs of others. (W. Sellars, “Science and Ethics” (1960)

  378. 378
  379. 379
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Thanks, Bornagain77. That Sellars quote means a lot to me.

    But, it is also worth underscoring, Sellars was a naturalist and a second-generation atheist. He saw no conflict between holding that agape is the foundation of ethics and holding that human beings are a peculiar sort of animal. I like to think that he would have been fascinated and impressed by Franz de Waal’s work on the evolutionary antecedents of morality in monkeys and apes.

  380. 380
    LarTanner says:

    BA77,

    [snip]Why don’t you also ridicule Darwinian evolution[snip]

    Ok, here goes:

    “Why did the chicken cross the road? It was the logical next step after coming down from the trees.”

    “Why did the chickens cross the road? Only the fittest chickens cross the road.”

    “If Darwin was right, you will probably figure it out in a few million years.”

    * * * * *

    … I’m not very good at this.

    In any case, if you can’t laugh at NDE testimony then what can you laugh at?

    Now, there are several Jewish NDE stories. Also many Muslim ones. And so on. I assume you consider these experiences equally valid to the ones you are most fond of, even though these NDEs reinforced the believers’ own faith and not a specific, other one.

    So, I’ve read some of them. Maybe many of them. I wonder why I should take their content (e.g., “heaven”) to be anything other than the brain and body going haywire. Oh right, because Dr. So-and-so on metacafe has a slideshow that says what you so ardently wish to hear, all accompanied by the melodramatic and semi-erotic worship music. Selah.

  381. 381
    bornagain77 says:

    Actually LarTanner, your answer makes no sense whatsoever. You have ZERO evidence that Darwinian processes can build even the most trivial pieces of the integrated functional complexity we find in life and you don’t ridicule that fact because you say ‘chickens sometimes cross roads’??? With all due respect, are you daft LarTanner??? What has that to do with the fact you have ZERO observational evidence??? So what if there is a glut of evidence for NDE’s??? Darwinism should hope for just one example of observational evidence instead of the ZERO it has.

    It should be noted: All foreign, non-Judeo-Christian culture, NDE studies I have looked at have a extreme rarity of encounters with ‘The Being Of Light’ and tend to be very unpleasant NDE’s save for the few pleasant children’s NDEs of those cultures that I’ve seen (It seems there is indeed an ‘age of accountability’). The following study was shocking for what was found in some non-Judeo-Christian NDE’s:

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt:The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Near Death Experience Thailand Asia – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8M5J3zWG5g

    It should also be noted that there are hellish NDE’s reported within Judeo-Christian cultures:

    video – Howard Storm continues to share his gripping story of his own near death experience. Today, he picks up just as Jesus was rescuing him from the horrors of Hell and carrying him into the glories of Heaven.
    http://www.daystar.com/ondeman.....KvFrYYsE31

    “I knew for certain there was no such thing as life after death. Only simple minded people believed in that sort of thing. I didn’t believe in God, Heaven, or Hell, or any other fairy tales. I drifted into darkness.
    Drifting asleep into anihilation.,,(Chapter 2 – The Descent),, I was standing up. I opened my eyes to see why I was standing up. I was between two hospital beds in the hospital room.,,, Everything that was me, my consciousness and my physical being, was standing next to the bed. No, it wasn’t me lying in the bed. It was just a thing that didn’t have any importance to me. It might as well have been a slab of meat in the supermarket”,,,
    Howard Storm – former hard-core atheist – Excerpt from his book, ‘My Descent Into Death’ (Page 12-14) http://books.google.com/books?.....38;f=false

    Bill Wiese – 23 Minutes In Hell – 2010 video
    http://www.vimeo.com/16641462

    Why Hell is so Horrible – Bill Wiese – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hd_so3wPw8

  382. 382
    Chris Doyle says:

    Good evening Lizzie,

    You asked:

    If, as I agree, an atheist who does not value the wellbeing of Human Being X has no reason to make any personal sacrifice in order to treat X well:

    How is it different for a theist in the same position?

    Great question, I’m glad you framed it comparatively too. Just as I assumed the truth of atheism when discussing atheistic morality (don’t moan about that term Lizzie, you know what I mean: it simply describes morality in a Godless universe), you must now assume the truth of theism when discussing theistic morality (which simply describes morality in a universe that was created by God). Prepare yourself for disappointment though as the answer is so simple and so obvious. Ready?

    Because the very reason we were put on this Earth was to make the kind of personal sacrifices required in order to treat people like X well.

    And that’s it… I told you you wouldn’t like it. But the logic is flawless IF you assume the truth of theism.

    Okay, you want more. “What is the truth of theism?” I hear you cry!

    Fair enough, you’ve made an admission about the failure of morality when it comes to rational, but uncaring, atheists, (even though it’s much bigger than you realise, nothing short of the total failure of atheistic morality). So, you’ve earned the chance to have a pop at me 😉

    We chose this life for starters, meaning we existed before we were born in this world. Back then, the Great Trial that is human existence was offered to us and others. The conditions were pretty simple, come down to Earth and see if we can be morally good when we are left alone with free-will and human bodies. Succeed and we’ll earn the right to go to a much better place. Fail, and we’ll still get there, but only after spending time in a much worse place. Others turned it down. We accepted.

    Now that we’re here, our top two priorities are to practice morality as much as we can and, perhaps more importantly, to resist immorality as much as we can.

    Pursuing a life of pleasure and enjoyment is quite often detrimental to those aims. Sure, a fulfilled life will involve a rich range of emotional experiences that include ample happiness, joy and pleasure: it is not about hiding away from the world and living like a monk. But the idea that the happy life is the same as a morally good one is just ridiculous as far as theistic morality is concerned. Why? Because the truest and best moral deeds:

    require painful self-sacrifice
    involve very difficult acts that are detrimental to our self-interest
    are entirely unrewarding and
    are so unappealing that we have to overcome strong revulsion in order to do them.

    So, helping old ladies across the road or helping the people you love (who make you glad when they’re glad, and make you sad when they’re sad), although still moral acts, are relatively minor ones. They are the very least you should do (you’d have to be a really selfish inconsiderate person not to do so). They are also often very easy to do and so do not really test you at all.

    On the other hand, many immoral acts:

    offer pleasurable selfishness
    involve very easy acts that promote our self-interest
    are entirely rewarding and
    are so appealing that we have to strongly resist the temptation to do them.

    I notice that most atheists never talk about these powerful and pleasurable aspects of immorality. They always seem to equate immoral acts to things they would never do because they absolutely do not want to do them. That kind of immorality is often quite minor (especially in terms of how easy it is to avoid doing it) and does not address what true immorality is all about.

    So, a theist who does not value the wellbeing of Human Being X has every reason to make personal sacrifices in order to treat X well, precisely because that is what true morality is all about, and morality is the top priority for a convinced theist. Assuming the theistic worldview is true, X provides a proper test, one that it would be irrational to decline simply because you don’t care about them.

    Doing good is much more important, and much more rational, than self-gratification if God created the universe.

  383. 383
    bornagain77 says:

    So KN, an atheist says something foundational correct about how reality is structured, something that can’t be rationally grounded in his atheistic worldview, and then that makes that foundational truth acceptable for you? But just suppose that your atheistic worldview is not correct for a second KN, what if God were to show his love for us, just for the pure sake of loving us, what do you suppose that would look like?

    Natalie Grant – Alive (Resurrection music video)
    Lyric: ‘Death has lost and love has won’
    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=KPYWPGNX

  384. 384

    Well, I’m mightily relieved that’s all it is, Chris. Good.

    All that Day of Reckoning stuff had me worried.

    So, can I ask you now my second question, in that context: how do you know that “the very reason we were put on this Earth was to make the kind of personal sacrifices required in order to treat people like X well”?

    It’s not a trick question – I’m not suggesting that you don’t know. I would just like to know how you know.

  385. 385
    kairosfocus says:

    LT:

    A basic worldviews primer, just in case you seriously do not know the differences [hard to believe it is far more likely you are playing games], from C. Stephen Evans:

    Polytheism: there is a plurality of personal gods, as with the Greeks and Egyptians.

    Monotheism: there is but one God, the personal being who created all things from nothing, and is supreme in power, knowledge and moral worth. (Sometimes simply called “theism” for short.)

    Animism: tends to see a High (often, a sky) God, but there is an intermediary chain of sky- and/or earth- bound spirit beings, with whom one must deal in day to day life. Sometimes it is argued that polytheism and monotheism evolved from animism.

    Agnosticism: the truth about “God” is not, or even cannot be, known; people should suspend judgement on the question.

    Atheism: Goes beyond this: “God” does not exist, save as an imaginary figure.

    Henotheism: There is a plurality of gods, but one serves a particular god, either because s/he is superior, or because that is the god of one’s community.

    Dualism: there are two gods, in mutual opposition – often one is viewed as “good,” the other as “evil.”

    Pantheism: rejects the concept of God as personal, and identifies God with the cosmos as a whole

    Panentheism: A variant on pantheism in which God is more than, but includes the universe.

    Deism: Agrees with theism that there is one God, but holds that God [currently] does not interact with creation. In effect, God made and wound up the clock then lets it run on its own.

    Absolute monism: God is an absolute unity which is somehow manifest in a less-than-fully-real world of apparent plurality.

    Naturalism: instead of focusing on the explicit rejection of God, this version of atheism asserts that the natural order we see around us exists on its own; often using materialistic evolutionary theories to try to explain its evolution “from hydrogen to humans.”

    Trinitarian monotheism: The specifically Christian contention that God is manifest through unity of being (there is but One God) and diversity in person (God is manifest as Father, Son and Spirit). Thus, it holds that the unity of the Godhead is complex rather than simple.

    The gods of pantheism are not the foundational ground of being, and are in effect super-men or personalised natural features and forces (there is a lot of syncretism with animism.) In such systems, the material world is not a creation, or it is made from the parts of a killed god or the like

    KF

  386. 386
    LarTanner says:

    KF,

    You said in 369 that “polytheism is not theism.” I have usually taken polytheism as a species of theism, which is the belief that gods exist.

    Some forms of theism posit the existence of one specific god. Others are even more elaborate. And polytheism, belief
    in “a plurality of personal gods,” seems to be clearly a type of theism.

    So, no games on my part, just definitions and relationships.

  387. 387
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Personally, I’m partial to the cosmogonies in which the world hatches from a gigantic egg.

    The point of the Sellars quote, as I read it, is that “the agapic commitment” — that frame of mind in which one takes seriously the needs of others as having a claim on ones actions — needs no further grounding. It is deeper than any moral principle which one could put forth as explicating and clarifying that commitment.

    Using that as a pivot, then, one way of reframing of the debate that we’re having here is whether the agapic commitment requires any further ‘grounding’ in a metaphysical doctrine or ‘world-view’.

  388. 388
    keiths says:

    kairosfocus,

    No, Dr Liddle, it is time you and your ilk learned some basic discussion duties of care and took them seriously. KF

    This is rather hypocritical, coming from someone who has resorted to lying on the other thread in order to keep his leaky and unseaworthy argument afloat.

  389. 389
    kairosfocus says:

    KS: It is you who have demonstrably been deceitful (onlookers, just follow the link then follow the back link to the thread of discussion to see what KS is concealing), and are now trying to brazenly spread that deceit. Here, by the utterly notorious tactic of turnabout false accusation. KF

  390. 390
    Chris Doyle says:

    Ha! We should all be worried about the Day of Reckoning, Lizzie. Because that day is certainly coming and it won’t matter what you believe, or who you believe in. It will simply be a case of whether your good deeds outweigh your bad ones. It will be the fairest of trials, and frankly not one that I look forward to with confidence.

    I’m a little surprised by your second question. Certainly as far as the argument is concerned it is a bit irrelevant, because the truth of theism is a given. But, I guess you’re just curious. Fair enough.

    Unlike your first question, the answer to this one is not simple and obvious: far from it. It can’t be, because if it was, it would all be too easy! But Mark Frank will drop 500 coins on my head (they’ll all land facing heads up, of course) if I don’t answer your questions with patient perseverance. And he’s an atheist who doesn’t value my welfare and we all know what that means 😉

    I’ve arrived at the conclusion that virtually all religions (but not cults), and certainly the Abrahamic faiths, all teach us the same thing: God, Morality, Afterlife. Naturally, those fundamental truths are clearer in some religions than they are in others. Some religions even contain teachings which detract from God, Morality, Afterlife. And that’s simply due to tampering by men. But, oddly enough, most thinking (and many unthinking) religious believers somehow cut to the chase, ignore the tampered stuff and take home the original message, God, Morality, Afterlife.

    That this is the case, strongly suggests to me that virtually all religions are derived from One True Source. The prophets of God, the ones who delivered this fundamental message, do not belong to any one religion: they belong to all true believers, regardless of faith. Some prophets we all know about, many have been long forgotten. Some were prophets and we never even knew it. They came to all people, at all times, and their message was always the same. Hence the universality of theistic truths today.

    I very much subscribe to the Two Books approach to God: The Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture (and I use that term in the widest sense, certainly, not just – or even primarily – the Bible). When I study the Book of Nature, I see what all the greatest scientists who ever lived saw: the hand of God, the Creator of the universe.

    Do I know for sure? Well, I believe we can never completely discount Descartes’ Demon Doubt: I could very well be a soul in a jar, and everything I know could be a mere illusion brought on by a Demon for who knows what diabolical reason.

    And that is where a leap of faith is required.

  391. 391
    keiths says:

    William J Murray:

    Also, since conjoined twins like Abby and Brittany occupy one body, it’s hardly a stretch to consider that two different souls might inhabit a single brain.

    Lizzie:

    I’m sure keiths would accept that as a solution, WJM. I’m just not sure most others would.

    Indeed, I addressed that as a possible (but weak) solution, way back in comment #13:

    How does a believer in the soul explain that? Does the soul split in two when the corpus callosum is cut? If so, why?

    What is your answer, William? Why does splitting the brain split the immaterial soul?

    (A commenter named Steve actually suggested, at TSZ, that split-brain patients were a case of spirit possession.)

    And Lizzie’s right. Most theists, including most Christians, would not accept that as a solution. They believe that each of us has one and only one soul, and that splitting the brain does not split the soul.

    The evidence shows that their view of the soul cannot be correct. It just doesn’t fit.

  392. 392
    Querius says:

    keiths,

    Already answered.

    Though I suspect that you’ll continue to deny that, since you apparently can’t rebut my argument and are desperately avoiding it./

    I just asked you a simple question, several times now. Instead, you point me to an argument you made that starts with six hefty assumptions (depending on how you count them), claiming that this somehow answers my question. No it doesn’t. You also make a seventh unstated assumption that two minds in each of two hemispheres of the brain cannot possibly be associated is two souls. Thus, you assume your way out of trouble. No, I’m not the one who’s desperate. Here, I’ll give you one more chance. Let’s see whether you’re willing to take an honest stab at it.

    Why do you think that the fact that we can have significant conflicts within our personality (i.e. soul), as demonstrated by your left-right brain examples of brain-damaged individuals, disproves the existence of a non-material soul?

    If you’re having trouble, maybe Elizabeth can help. I bet she can provide a cogent reply. Elizabeth, are you up for taking on the question that keiths having trouble with?

  393. 393
    Querius says:

    Sorry about the formatting issue. 😛

  394. 394
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    Do you disagree with any of my assumptions?

    Assume that:

    1. There is an immaterial soul.
    2. The immaterial soul is the seat of knowledge.
    3. The immaterial soul is the seat of the will.
    4. The immaterial soul initiates voluntary actions.
    4. The immaterial soul receives information from both hemispheres.
    5. The immaterial soul sends commands to both hemispheres.

    If you disagree with any of these assumptions, I can modify the argument accordingly, but these seem pretty standard among people who believe in a soul.

    If you disagree, then tell me exactly which assumptions you disagree with, and why. Then we can see how well your view of the soul survives the split-brain test.

    If you don’t disagree with any of them, then why are you complaining?

    You also make a seventh unstated assumption that two minds in each of two hemispheres of the brain cannot possibly be associated is two souls. Thus, you assume your way out of trouble.

    Your statement doesn’t parse correctly. Could you try rewriting it?

  395. 395
    Querius says:

    keiths,

    See post 296 where I respond to your assumptions. You didn’t read it, did you.

    Sorry about the typo. It should read “with two souls.”

    Elizabeth, I think keiths needs help with my question.

    Why do you think that the fact that we can have significant conflicts within our personality (i.e. soul), as demonstrated by your left-right brain examples of brain-damaged individuals, disproves the existence of a non-material soul?

    Do you want to take a shot at it?

  396. 396
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    I’ve read your #296, but it didn’t give me the information I need.

    Let me repeat:

    If you disagree, then tell me exactly which assumptions you disagree with, and why. Then we can see how well your view of the soul survives the split-brain test.

    You can even substitute your own list of assumptions, if you prefer. If your assumptions aren’t specific enough, I’ll explain why and ask the necessary questions.

    You’re not afraid of sharing your assumptions, are you?

  397. 397
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    Sorry about the typo. It should read “with two souls.”

    Okay, so with that correction you are saying:

    You also make a seventh unstated assumption that two minds in each of two hemispheres of the brain cannot possibly be associated with two souls. Thus, you assume your way out of trouble.

    But I don’t make that assumption. See my reply to William above.

    If you go with the two souls idea, then it seems to me that you either have to assume that each of us starts out with two souls, or that the soul splits when the brain splits, or that a second soul comes occupies the “empty” hemisphere after the corpus callosum is cut.

    Are you making any of those assumptions? If so, let us know which one(s).

  398. 398
    Querius says:

    keiths,

    If you go with the two souls idea, then it seems to me that you either have to assume that each of us starts out with two souls, or that the soul splits when the brain splits, or that a second soul comes occupies the “empty” hemisphere after the corpus callosum is cut.

    Are you making any of those assumptions? If so, let us know which one(s).

    LOL, no you’re the one making those assumptions. They’re yours, not mine.

    I think you’ll be better off if you wait for Elizabeth. 😉

  399. 399

    What is your answer, William? Why does splitting the brain split the immaterial soul?

    I don’t agree that it splits the soul, so your question is irrelevant to me. I don’t even agree that there are necessarily two souls involved – it’s quite possible that one soul is expressing multiple, even conflicting personalities through one physical body. I was just listing the theistic possibilities that fall outside of your convenient set of premises.

    I don’t hold that the soul is the seat of what we call personality, and that view is not unique – there are long established spiritualities that hold this to be the case.

    You’re asking a question, IMO, that is akin to a physicist from long ago attempting to prove something about photons by setting up an double slit experiment. You’re thinking of the soul as if it were a particle with particular, measurable characteristics – hardly surprising, given that you are a reductionist materialist (if I remember correctly).

    The soul is not a particle. It’s interface with the physical is, in my view, not as simple, nor as divisible, as your argument and questions assume. There are forms of theism (Sant Mat, Science of Mind, etc.) that lie well outside of the purview of your premises.

  400. 400
    keiths says:

    Querius,

    It looks like I’m right. You are afraid to state your assumptions. You’re even afraid to state exactly which assumptions of mine you disagree with!

    You’re not exactly radiating confidence in your ability to defend the soul, you know.

    I can understand. The split-brain evidence is very uncomfortable for believers in the soul. I don’t envy you.

  401. 401
    keiths says:

    William,

    If you don’t agree with my premises, then why are you complaining?

    I stated very clearly in comment #7, and have repeated many times since then, that I am addressing my argument to

    …those who believe “that each of us has an immaterial mind or soul that constitutes our true self, and that the body, including the brain, is merely a vehicle ‘inhabited’ and controlled by the mind or soul.

    If you’d like to present your own idosyncratic view of the soul for consideration, that’s fine. We can evaluate it to see if it holds up against the split-brain evidence.

    However, I’m more interested in widely-held views of the soul, such as those of Christians.

  402. 402
    Joe says:

    Mark Frank:

    So your reasons for being moral do not ultimately come down to consideration for others.

    I was talking about a theist. Not only that yours does not follow from what I said.

    The come down to the benefit to you in the long term.

    Helping others would be a benefit.

    In fact if someone was able to prove to you that you had misunderstood the Christian teaching (why not – we are all fallible) and being moral did not get you to heaven you would have no reason to be moral (or as Chris would put it morality fails).

    I am not a christian. But without a God or a rule giver I say morality is whatever you want it to be.

  403. 403

    BTW, keiths:

    1. There is an immaterial soul.
    2. The immaterial soul is the seat of knowledge.
    3. The immaterial soul is the seat of the will.
    4. The immaterial soul initiates voluntary actions.
    4. The immaterial soul receives information from both hemispheres.
    5. The immaterial soul sends commands to both hemispheres.

    You have two #4’s.

    My theistic view of the soul does not comport with this list.

  404. 404
    Joe says:

    keiths:

    Assume that:

    1. There is an immaterial soul.
    2. The immaterial soul is the seat of knowledge.

    What does that mean “the seat of knowledge”?

    3. The immaterial soul is the seat of the will.

    Disagree.

    4. The immaterial soul initiates voluntary actions.

    Nope.

    4. The immaterial soul receives information from both hemispheres.

    As long as it is from the same person.

    5. The immaterial soul sends commands to both hemispheres.

    Nope.

    Does all this nonsense mean that you are NOT going to provide a reference for your tripe wrt the soul?

    Are you really that much of a coward?

  405. 405
    keiths says:

    William,

    You have two #4?s.

    I know. I corrected it somewhere in the thread, but this time I copied the list from the original and forgot to correct it.

    My theistic view of the soul does not comport with this list.

    That’s fine. As I said:

    If you’d like to present your own idosyncratic view of the soul for consideration, that’s fine. We can evaluate it to see if it holds up against the split-brain evidence.

    If you want to do that, you’ll need to describe your concept of the soul well enough for us to evaluate it.

  406. 406
    Mark Frank says:

    Chris

    You came to the conclusion that if an atheist did not care about human beings then morality fails. Allow me one hypothetical case. Suppose a theist did not care about what happened to him or her on judgement day? Does morality fail in this case?

  407. 407

    Mark: what I call the “Huck Finn” case 🙂

  408. 408
    Chris Doyle says:

    Morning Mark/Lizzie,

    Any theist who doesn’t care what happens in the afterlife is as rational as any atheist who does care what happens in the afterlife: that is to say, not at all rational. There is certainly no equivalence between an atheist who – for perfectly sound reasons – does not value the welfare of others; and a theist who – flying in the face of reason – does not care about what happens to him on Judgment Day.

    There is no accounting for people that act irrationally. The minute you rely on the lack of reason in human behaviour, you are abandoning a rational basis to your argument.

    There is simply no scenario where doing the morally good thing will count against you on Judgment Day. No rational theist would value a life of immorality above giving a good account of themselves on Judgment Day.

    Only a convinced atheist would ask the sort of question that Mark did: no true believer would. When a hypothesis is entirely unrealistic, it should be abandoned. Whereas, my observation that many people (including convinced atheists) simply do not value the welfare of others (certainly not those outside their circle of care) is entirely realistic, and indeed empirically verified.

    Now that we’ve established the facts, I will nonetheless “allow” Mark his “hypothetical case”. Blame it on the sunshine (and Lizzie’s admission about atheistic morality!). 🙂

    So, as well as assuming the truth of the theistic worldview, let’s also assume that a theist does “not care about what happened to him or her” on Judgment Day.

    He still knows that we chose this existence, that he accepted the offer to participate in this Test we call ‘Life’. He still wants to do as well as he can in this test, because he wants to please God. His attitude in this respect is similar to anyone who wants to impress someone they respect and admire, and certainly doesn’t want to disappoint someone they respect and admire.

    He also wants to prove to himself that he is mentally strong and can handle whatever life throws at him. Again, his attitude in this respect is similar to anyone who is motivated by the challenge, and approaches it positively.

    Furthermore, the Moral Law is not hidden from us, nor is it far off. It is in our mouths, in our hearts, it is etched into our very souls. For this reason, he knows that the urgings of his conscience are very real and are a true guide to him. He reveres this guidance, because it is a daily reminder of the divine in his soul. It is to be cherished, not ignored.

    That is why a theist who (insanely!) does not care about what happens to him on Judgment Day would still have good reasons to give morality the top priority in his life.

  409. 409
    Mark Frank says:

    He still wants to do as well as he can in this test, because he wants to please God. His attitude in this respect is similar to anyone who wants to impress someone they respect and admire, and certainly doesn’t want to disappoint someone they respect and admire.

    Some people don’t want to disappoint those they respect and admire. Others have an opposite reaction and want to show to themselves that they are independent of the person they respect and admire. Human nature is very diverse. But this response is at least as common as those who do not care at all about their fellow human beings.

    He also wants to prove to himself that he is mentally strong and can handle whatever life throws at him. Again, his attitude in this respect is similar to anyone who is motivated by the challenge, and approaches it positively.

    Again you must have observed that many other people react in different ways and do not want to prove themselves. Surely they would be more “rational” (using your vocabulary) to ignore the challenge and enjoy a hedonistic albeit immoral lifestyle?

    The important point is that whether you are a theist or an atheist you cannot come to a conclusion about what is a rational course of action without making some assumptions about what you want to achieve. Lizzie and I would say that when acting morally what you want to achieve is care for others. As a theist you say that what you want to achieve is to please God, do what he put you on earth to do, and go to heaven. These are strong motives. But if you are one of those rare people – an atheist who has no compassion for others or a theist who does not mind being in God’s bad books – then you will have no reason to be moral. As you like to phrase it – you would be stupid to be moral.

  410. 410
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Correcting KS further FTR. KF

  411. 411

    No rational theist would value a life of immorality above giving a good account of themselves on Judgment Day.

    Unless, of course, one is a theist that doesn’t believe that there is a judgement day.

  412. 412
    Chris Doyle says:

    Your response was even more unconvincing than your hypothetical question, Mark. In it, you are claiming that it is just as rational to disrespect a respectful person as it is to respect a respectful person. That is pure nonsense. Alternatively, you’re saying although it is rational to respect a respectful person, it is perfectly irrational to disrespect a respectful person and that the two are logically equivalent. Again, pure nonsense.

    When you talk about a convinced theist disrespecting God, giving up on the test of life, ignoring the guidance of his soul, embracing immorality and hedonism without giving a second thought to the afterlife you are obviously not talking about a theist at all.

    You are actually talking about a God-hating atheist. They’re quite common. And that’s where you’re not engaging with the argument.

    In my argument, the truth of the theistic worldview is a given. Yes, a theist can still act immorally in that scenario, they enjoy true free-will after all. But it will always be irrational for a theist to act immorally, if the theistic worldview is true. In my scenario, a theist will always want to achieve the best moral life he can: precisely because he understands that immoral pleasures in this life are there to tempt him away from the highest purpose: the one that he was put on this Earth to achieve. He will patiently persevere in this life, precisely because such behaviour will improve his situation in the next life.

    Only an atheist would consider the possibility that a theist would want to achieve the direct opposite of that.

    The theistic situation above, simply does not compare to the situation that atheists find themselves in, if we assume the truth of the atheistic worldview and consider morality. Atheists do not care about everyone: that is not rare, on the contrary, it is a fact about all atheists. Indeed atheists do not care about most of the people they meet. Again, true of all atheists. There will even be times when atheists do not care about the people they normally care about! Once again, this applies to all atheists. And yet, Mark described such situations as “rare”. That is complete and utter nonsense. Because they are all common, everyday occurrences.

    In all those situatations, when atheists don’t care about the people who can be served by a moral act, or deprived by an immoral act, Lizzie (and, deep down, you) AGREE that it is irrational for an atheist to be moral. And often rational for an atheist to be immoral. In these common, everyday circumstances, atheists are strongly motivated to ignore the moral requirement and embrace the immoral act”.

    A theist who does not mind being in God’s bad books? That’s not just rare, that’s non-existent. A God-hating atheist who does not mind being in God’ bad books? Quite common. In the end, they will mind though: they will mind very much indeed.

  413. 413
    Chris Doyle says:

    True that, WJM. The same could apply if you believe that God had a son and he died for your sins.

  414. 414
    Alan Fox says:

    ‘God-hating atheists’? I think you’ll find it’s the pompous, certain and self-congratulating bigots they dislike. It’s pretty hard to hate a non-existent concept.

  415. 415
    Chris Doyle says:

    ‘God-hating atheists’? I think you’ll find it’s the pompous, certain and self-congratulating bigots they dislike. It’s pretty hard to hate a non-existent concept.

    Says the God-hating atheist.

  416. 416
    Alan Fox says:

    Not an atheist! Get your facts right. I’m not calling you a Christian, now, am I? I can’t be absolutely certain entities that are solely the creation of human imagination don’t exist.

  417. 417
    Mark Frank says:

    Chris

    You are forcing me to conclude that you are some kind of psychopath only restrained by your fear of going to hell.

    Atheists do not care about everyone: that is not rare, on the contrary, it is a fact about all atheists. Indeed atheists do not care about most of the people they meet. Again, true of all atheists

    That appears to be a straightforward insult based on zero evidence. I am sorry but most people I know, atheist or theist, care about most people they meet. If they hear a cry for help they go to the aid of even a complete stranger. You may be an exception in which case you are a dangerous person and need to see a psychiatrist (but I doubt you really are an exception).

    Let me emphasise once more I hate neither God nor Christianity. I don’t believe in God and on the whole I think Christianity is a net benefit to civilisation. So please lay off the “god-hating atheist” tag. It is an unnecessary bit of taunting which gets in the way of a rational discussion.

    Now to your key point

    A theist who does not mind being in God’s bad books? That’s not just rare, that’s non-existent.

    Well you can of course use the No True Scotsman argument and say any theist who doesn’t mind being in God’s bad books is not a real theist. However, bear in mind we talking about Theism not Christianity. Given the huge diversity of human nature I would say it is almost inevitable that there are such people. But even if in practice such people are not to be found the logical position is the same:

    For an atheist it is not rational to be moral unless you care about other people.

    For a theist it is not rational to be moral unless you want to do God’s will.

    The second position has the additional disadvantage that it is necessary to discover God’s will and this is not always straightforward – certainly different theists disagree on what it is – while it is hard to be wrong about whether you care about someone. So you may discover that you have made a mistake (we are all able to make mistakes) and that God’s will was not for you to help old ladies across the road after all, in fact he disapproves of it. I can hardly discover that I did not care about someone (I might discover that I no longer cared about someone – that is quite different).

  418. 418

    Chris:

    …when atheists don’t care about the people who can be served by a moral act, or deprived by an immoral act, Lizzie (and, deep down, you) AGREE that it is irrational for an atheist to be moral. And often rational for an atheist to be immoral. In these common, everyday circumstances, atheists are strongly motivated to ignore the moral requirement and embrace the immoral act

    Chris, my point, which I have made repeatedly, is that this applies to everyone, atheist or theist. If you don’t care about other people then it is “rational” to treat them badly.

    By definition. Rational behaviour consists in pursuing what we value. It doesn’t matter what your belief system is, if you value the welfare of other people, you will treat them well, and if you don’t you won’t.

    My point is that it isn’t particularly “rational” not to value the welfare of other people, and in fat most people do, theist or atheist.

    Theists may do so for the reasons you give – that they believe that they were created to value other people.

    Atheists may do it for other reasons – the believe that it is the key to the society they want to live in.

    But in both cases, what is important is valuing the welfare of other people. If we do, we will behave morally (by the definition we seem to agree on).

    And valuing the welfare of other people does not depend on being a theist; nor does being a theist guarantee that you will value the welfare of other people.

    And nothing I have said indicates otherwise, and you have provided no reason for an atheist not to value other people.

  419. 419
    Joe says:

    Elizabeth:

    If you don’t care about other people then it is “rational” to treat them badly.

    Why can’t you just ignore them? It is only if I dislike people would I consider treating them badly.

  420. 420

    You could do that too, Joe. It’s not my point, it’s Chris’s – that if you don’t place a value on other people’s welfare than it is “rational” not to deprive yourself of any personal benefit at their expense.

    My point is that it’s not very rational not to value other people’s welfare in the first place.

  421. 421
    Chris Doyle says:

    Mark

    You are forcing me to conclude that you are some kind of psychopath only restrained by your fear of going to hell.

    Let’s be honest with each other here, Mark. You already made up your mind about that a long, long time ago: both here and in private correspondence.

    Now, when I said:

    Atheists do not care about everyone: that is not rare, on the contrary, it is a fact about all atheists. Indeed atheists do not care about most of the people they meet. Again, true of all atheists

    You responded with:

    That appears to be a straightforward insult based on zero evidence. I am sorry but most people I know, atheist or theist, care about most people they meet. If they hear a cry for help they go to the aid of even a complete stranger. You may be an exception in which case you are a dangerous person and need to see a psychiatrist (but I doubt you really are an exception).

    Aw, so I’m probably not a psychopath after all. Gee thanks, Mark! Look, my comment above was based on the reasons I set out in posts 231 and 292. Those reasons were sound and stood up to what little scrutiny was brought to bear on them. They stand unrefuted, so I therefore refer you back to those posts rather than repeat myself.

    Let me emphasise once more I hate neither God nor Christianity. I don’t believe in God and on the whole I think Christianity is a net benefit to civilisation. So please lay off the “god-hating atheist” tag. It is an unnecessary bit of taunting which gets in the way of a rational discussion.

    I honestly don’t see it as taunting. I wasn’t trying to offend with it. I have met many God-hating atheists. It simply means people who claim that they don’t believe in God at the same time as going on about how cruel and horrible God is. I’ve seen these people get incredibly angry whenever God turns up in discussion, that’s how much they hate Him. It’s almost as if they choose disbelief as a way to spite God. Yes, it is a contradiction in terms. But that’s really not my problem now is it? And the theist you described in your hypothetical scenario truly struck me as resembling a God-hating atheist. But, if you don’t like that term, perhaps you can suggest a better one.

    Well you can of course use the No True Scotsman argument and say any theist who doesn’t mind being in God’s bad books is not a real theist.

    Yes, just as I would say that any man born outside of Scotland is No True Scotsman, I would also say any man that does not believe in God is no real theist. It’s only a fallacy when it’s not true. Like I said, in the real world, the only people who don’t mind being in God’s bad book are God-hating atheists.

    However, bear in mind we talking about Theism not Christianity. Given the huge diversity of human nature I would say it is almost inevitable that there are such people.

    Although I agree that there are – in principle – some people, (no-one that you and I know of) who subscribe to certain cults, or the wackier components of certain religions, who might think that it’s okay for them to be in God’s bad books, this would only be because they have gone astray. Remember, anything to the detriment of the universal true message: God, Morality, Afterlife is simply not theistic truth.

    We both know of people, who include atheists, who do not value the welfare of everybody else. Certainly, their own self-interest is more valuable, enough so that the morally good option is not taken. And the immoral option often is.

    But even if in practice such people are not to be found the logical position is the same:

    For an atheist it is not rational to be moral unless you care about other people.

    For a theist it is not rational to be moral unless you want to do God’s will.

    The formal logic is the same, yes. But the atheist will frequently have moral decisions to make about people they do not care about. And has no other reason to be moral, on the contrary, they often have good reason to free-ride and be immoral! The theist will extremely rarely, if ever, not want to do God’s will. Compare and contrast that to the frequency of the atheistic condition arising.

    Additionally, the theist will still have good reasons to be moral and no reason to be immoral, as I’ve already explained yesterday and today. Sure, the theist might still be immoral: but – unlike the free-riding atheist – that would not be rational.

    The second position has the additional disadvantage that it is necessary to discover God’s will and this is not always straightforward – certainly different theists disagree on what it is – while it is hard to be wrong about whether you care about someone.

    I completely disagree with that. The universal message of God, Morality, Afterlife is one that most believers are at least aware of, and even practice… despite absorbing additional (man-made) teachings that should detract from that. Whenever there are contentious moral issues, it is usually because things like politics are interfering with the religious arena. Remove the politics, and all becomes clear. Knowing what the right thing to do is easy if you are a theist.
    Doing it is an altogether different matter.

  422. 422
    Joe says:

    Elizabeth:

    My point is that it’s not very rational not to value other people’s welfare in the first place.

    Not even your children’s, relative’s or your spouse’s?

  423. 423
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi Lizzie,

    Well, that response gives me the impression that you have barely understood anything I’ve said. Especially the last bit. First of all, I don’t need to provide a reason for an atheist not to value other people: though there are many reasons if you stop and think about it properly. I simply need to point out, as I did in posts 231 and 292, that it is a matter of fact that atheists don’t value everybody elses welfare. Remember the circle of care? Most are small.
    I patiently laid out the reasons why a theist does not need to value the welfare of others in order to treat them morally. Assuming the theistic worldview is true, those reasons are flawless.

    And what’s with the scare-quotes around the word rational? It’s almost as if you would rather jettison reason than face up to the consequences of your admission: the total and utter failure of atheistic morality. You see, the minute morality depends on things like “valuing the welfare of others” or “doing what you want to do” it is doomed. The minute it becomes subjective and conditional it is finished.
    But you see, if we live in a Godless universe, it frankly doesn’t make sense to value the welfare of others. Fair enough, have a little circle of care. But everyone else? They are there for the taking. Free-ride on a just society. All of mankind is there to be exploited for your selfish interests. If you do value the welfare of others, it makes sense to stop such irrational behaviour: lose the dead weight, take care of number one. After all, you only live once and if morality is getting in the way of your enjoyment – and it ALWAYS will – then it’s time to ditch morality. The beauty of it is, with free-riding, you still get to live in the kind of society you want to live in: there are no drawbacks whatsoever.

    And there is absolutely no doubt that this is exactly how many people go about their lives. Deny that and you are denying reality. It is wrong [selfishly speaking] and irrational in a theist… but it is right [selfishly speaking] and rational in an atheist.

    Doing what you want to do is much more conducive to immoral behaviour (ie. not resisting temptation) than it is to moral behaviour (because the best moral acts involve doing something you really don’t want to do).

    Only if God created the universe does it make sense to value the welfare of others. And if you don’t value the welfare of others, the best thing you can do is morally good works as if you really did care.

    Anyway, I have now said everything I want to say on this subject. Neither you nor Mark are saying anything I haven’t heard before and you have finally admitted that atheistic morality fails, effectively. So, unless you have any more questions, let’s leave it at that.

  424. 424
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi Joe,

    My point, in a nutshell, is that if you’re an atheist, and you don’t care about someone, you can rationally ignore any moral duty you have towards them, especially where that moral duty involves painful self-sacrifice.

    Furthermore, you can rationally exploit them in an immoral way if you will enjoy it, or if it serves your self-interest. Just as long as there will be no punishing consequences… and there won’t be if you don’t get caught (and, these days, there won’t be even if you do get caught!)

  425. 425

    OK, so you are right, I still don’t understand you. So let me rephrase my question:

    Why is it not rational for a theist to ignore the moral duty to someone she doesn’t care about?

  426. 426
    Chris Doyle says:

    I can only repeat what I said in post 382:

    a theist who does not value the wellbeing of Human Being X has every reason to make personal sacrifices in order to treat X well, precisely because that is what true morality is all about, and morality is the top priority for a convinced theist. Assuming the theistic worldview is true, X provides a proper test, one that it would be irrational to decline simply because you don’t care about them.

    Doing good is much more important, and much more rational, than self-gratification if God created the universe.

    In the same post, I explained what “true morality is all about”, please check it if that is not clear.

  427. 427

    My point, in a nutshell, is that if you’re an atheist, and you don’t care about someone, you can rationally ignore any moral duty you have towards them, especially where that moral duty involves painful self-sacrifice.

    Furthermore, you can rationally exploit them in an immoral way if you will enjoy it, or if it serves your self-interest. Just as long as there will be no punishing consequences… and there won’t be if you don’t get caught (and, these days, there won’t be even if you do get caught!)

    Very well said. Theists have a reason to behave morally even if they don’t want to, or are ambivalent about it – there are necessary consequences (whether its a day of judgement or not). Even sociopathic theist has a reason to behave morally.

    Taken a step further, if morality is determined by social consensus, then the atheist has good, rational reason to ignore their own feelings about what is moral and obey the social standard. It would be irrational not to do so. So, if the social standard is “gas all the Jews” or “torture children for fun”, the atheist – rationally – should ignore or subdue their own inner dislike of such things and then do what will cause them the least negative social consequence – because it is society that determines what is moral by definition, under atheism. There is no absolute standard.

    Only the theist has the necessary foundation from which one is morally required, and rationally justified, to either disobey or change social moral norms. Ironically, this means that the atheist is necessarily behaving irrationally when they challenge or disobey widespread cultural religious moralities, because they have no basis by which to consider current social moralities “wrong”.

  428. 428

    Why is it not rational for a theist to ignore the moral duty to someone she doesn’t care about?

    Because under theism there are necessary (inescapable) consequences for ignoring moral duties. Morality is not about what you want to do; it is about what you ought to do, whether you feel like it or not.

  429. 429
    LarTanner says:

    Because under theism there are necessary (inescapable) consequences for ignoring moral duties.

    If only there were a convenient way to gain forgiveness for “sins.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl.....cis-tweets

  430. 430
    LarTanner says:

    Post 382/486-

    a theist who does not value the wellbeing of Human Being X has every reason to make personal sacrifices in order to treat X well, precisely because that is what true morality is all about, and morality is the top priority for a convinced theist.

    Andf historically it has been the case that theists worldwide have sacrificed to treat their fellow humans well.

  431. 431

    LarTanner,

    We’re talking about the priciples involved and the logic that follows. Under theism, there is in principle a reason for an uncaring person to perform their moral duty even if they don’t want to, and even if it constitutes a sacrifice for them. Under atheism, there is no such principled reason.

    I don’t believe in “forgiveness of sin”, nor does it matter how individuals or groups of theists in the past have treated others. What is in debate is the principle and the logic that flows from theistic (absolute) morality, and atheistic (subjective) morality.

  432. 432
    LarTanner says:

    WJM-

    Under theism, there is in principle a reason for an uncaring person to perform their moral duty even if they don’t want to, and even if it constitutes a sacrifice for them. Under atheism, there is no such principled reason.

    One does not live by -isms alone.

  433. 433
    Mark Frank says:

    Chris – I think this getting a bit fruitless but I would like to pursue whether in practice atheists (and indeed theists) care about others.

    You wrote:

    Gee thanks, Mark! Look, my comment above was based on the reasons I set out in posts 231 and 292. Those reasons were sound and stood up to what little scrutiny was brought to bear on them. They stand unrefuted, so I therefore refer you back to those posts rather than repeat myself.

    Most of what is in those comments is just assertions that atheists only have a limited circle of care or possibly none at all. The only evidence for this claim is a link to an article by Roy Hattersley on support for Katrina victims. I think this may be a confusion based on different concepts of care. I don’t necessarily mean hands-on applying the bandages loving care (although some atheists do this). All I mean is that pretty much everyone including atheists would like to relieve the suffering and increase the happiness of others, other things being equal. That is all that is needed to behave morally from time to time. You are saying that the majority of atheists would not even lift a finger to save the life of a stranger. I would have thought common sense would tell you this is not true. Almost anyone would go to considerable lengths to save a complete stranger from drowning if they could do it easily even though they might get their clothes damp. It would not require any religious belief. The world is full of a thousand small kindnesses which we perform for complete strangers without hesitation if there is no great loss for us.

    More concrete evidence lies in charity donations from primarily atheist countries and the work of humanist charitable organisations.

  434. 434

    Mark Frank again confuses an argument about what can be logically inferred from a premise for an argument about evidence.

    The challenge isn’t about whether or not atheists actually act less morally than theists, but what the logical ramifications are concerning atheism and morality.

    I have found that many atheist abandon theism out of a sense of moral obligation – they cannot condone what they consider to be the immoral characterizations of the actions of god, or the immoral activities (past or present) of the church.

    Just because someone describes themselves as an atheist doesn’t mean they have fully apprehended the logical consequences of atheism and what it necessarily means when it comes to morality. Many atheists can go their whole lives without ever even internally examining whether their actions and statements logically comport with their asserted worldview.

    There is no rational reason for an atheist to behave morally when they don’t feel like it, and when there doesn’t appear to be any significant negative consequences. Also, there is no rational reason for an atheist to disobey or challenge, to the point of personal harm or sacrifice, any local, socially-accepted moral practice, like mutilating the genitalia of small children, beheading gays, burning witches or gassing Jews.

    Because self-described atheists don’t do such things, or because they do challenge such social moralities, doesn’t mean that such behavior has been logically reconciled with their foundational premise.

  435. 435
    LarTanner says:

    WJM @ 434, second paragraph

    The challenge isn’t about whether or not atheists actually act less morally than theists, but what the logical ramifications are concerning atheism and morality.

    In other words, it doesn’t matter at all how morally an atheist actually behaves. As long as one holds that atheism is true, s/he is morally inferior to a theist.

  436. 436
    Chris Doyle says:

    I refer you to post 382, Mark, where I talk about true morality… it seems the only kind of morality you think about is the bare minimum, easy kind (the kind where you’d have to be very selfish and inconsiderate to refuse to do it). Charitable donations, a thousand small kindnesses and even saving a drowning man are not morally impressive acts. As I demonstrate in post 382.

    You seem to have a blind spot when it comes to the appealing kind of immorality… it seems the only kind of immorality that you think about is the unappealing variety, the stuff that you are not tempted by. When you are greatly tempted to do something to someone that will bring you pleasure and gain… at their expense… what’s stopping you if you don’t care about them?

    Finally, talk of me merely asserting untrue things about people and their circles of care is simply false. In the real world, that’s how it is… to deny it is to deny reality. Take off the rose-tinted specs and take a trip to a big town or city and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. Love of the Self has never been greater, nor more exclusive.

  437. 437
    Chris Doyle says:

    Spot on, WJM:

    Just because someone describes themselves as an atheist doesn’t mean they have fully apprehended the logical consequences of atheism and what it necessarily means when it comes to morality. Many atheists can go their whole lives without ever even internally examining whether their actions and statements logically comport with their asserted worldview.

    Lizzie, for instance has retained her strong, ingrained sense of theistic morality without realising that she rationally should have let that go with God. That’s why she sticks out like a sore thumb amongst Internet Atheists: the Ugly Duckling who doesn’t belong.

    Morality simply doesn’t apply in a Godless universe. It only applies if God etched it on your soul.

    The big question atheists like Lizzie need to ask themselves is this: “If you can’t or won’t let go of morality, why did you let go of God?”

  438. 438

    Chris:

    I asked:

    Why is it not rational for a theist to ignore the moral duty to someone she doesn’t care about?

    You responded:

    I can only repeat what I said in post 382:

    a theist who does not value the wellbeing of Human Being X has every reason to make personal sacrifices in order to treat X well, precisely because that is what true morality is all about, and morality is the top priority for a convinced theist.

    This is, I suggest, at best, tautological, and at worst, contradictory. We agreed that if someone does not value the wellbeing of others, that person will not make personal sacrifices for other people.

    Now you are saying that if a theist does not value the wellbeing of others, that person will nonetheless make personal sacrifices for other people because “morality is the top priority for a convinced theist”.

    So, you seem to be saying it it would be possible for someone to place no value on the wellbeing of others, yet because “morality is a top priority” they will place value on the wellbeing of others!

    If you are not saying that, then you are being self-contractory, I suggest.

    I am simply cutting through that tautology, and saying: to value morality is to value the well-being of others.

    Therefore, if anyone – theist or atheist – fails to value the well-being of others, morality fails.

    That was true for atheists – you agreed, I agreed. You have provided no reason for theists to be any different – unless you are suggesting (which you have hinted at, but avoided in this argument) that a theist who does not value the well-being of others, will nonetheless make personal sacrifices for them, for fear of personal consequences at the Day of Reckoning (your term, not mine).

    Or do you thing that true morality is something other than valuing the wellbeing of others? I was reassured by your post at 382 that you did think that true morality was valuing the wellbeing of others (indeed the reason, according to theists, why we were put on earth).

    What did I miss?

  439. 439

    Lizzie, for instance has retained her strong, ingrained sense of theistic morality without realising that she rationally should have let that go with God. That’s why she sticks out like a sore thumb amongst Internet Atheists: the Ugly Duckling who doesn’t belong.

    No, Chris. All I agreed was that IF an atheist does not value the wellbeing of others THEN morality fails (as it does with a theist). As the value I put on the well-being of others never depended on my belief in God, then it is totally unaffected by the fact that I no longer believe in God.

    And the same is true of most people. I know theists who put little value on the wellbeing of others (and are thereby not being moral when they treat them badly) and I know atheists who put a great deal of value on the wellbeing of others (I gave you a shining example). I also know some utterly selfless theists, and some entirely selfish atheists. I see no correlation between the value people put on the well-being of other people, and no reason to expect one.

    Morality simply doesn’t apply in a Godless universe. It only applies if God etched it on your soul.

    If God is real, Chris, there’s no reason to think that the reason we atheists value the well-being of others is because God etched it on our souls too. On the other hand, if God is not real, we need to find another explanation for the self-evident fact that most people place value on the well-being of others, and that “others” for most people, theist and non-theist, extends way beyond our immediate circle, and often into the animal world as well.

    The big question atheists like Lizzie need to ask themselves is this: “If you can’t or won’t let go of morality, why did you let go of God?”

    Because the two things are not dependent on each other. When I believed in God, I believed that my capacity to value the well-being of others was, as you say “etched on my soul” – and on the souls of every other human being. When I ceased to believe in God, I figured out it got there some other way.

    The odd thing is that you and William both seem to think that there is something “irrational” about valuing the well-being of others. There isn’t. Not everyone does, it, but not everyone is terribly rational either.

    But it’s eminently sensible to make sure that things are fair – that some people don’t get ahead at the expense of others. It’s also what we, possibly uniquely in the animal kingdom, are capable of understanding and implementing. I used to thank God for that. Now, I am simply thankful.

  440. 440

    As for sticking out like a sore thumb among Internet Atheists – may be, but that’s because I’m just a bit odd, not because my Internet Atheist friends are any less moral.

  441. 441
    Chris Doyle says:

    Remember Lizzie, we are only talking in terms of valuing the welfare of others because that is the only reason atheists have to behave morally. As it turns out, it’s a pretty rubbish reason because:

    Most people do not truly value the welfare of others.
    Even if they did, it does not follow that valuing the welfare of others outweighs the value of self-interest.
    And if we’re talking about rational atheists, self-interest is the top priority.

    Now you are saying that if a theist does not value the wellbeing of others, that person will nonetheless make personal sacrifices for other people because “morality is the top priority for a convinced theist”.

    Correct.

    So, you seem to be saying it it would be possible for someone to place no value on the wellbeing of others, yet because “morality is a top priority” they will place value on the wellbeing of others!

    Not quite. Sure, the theistic worldview, by promoting selflessness will tend to make rational theists more caring and sharing. Contrast that with the atheistic worldview which promotes only selfishness. But, let’s assume a theist genuinely doesn’t care about someone, and certainly doesn’t want to share with them. Nonetheless, “morality is the top priority” the only rational thing for that theist to do is act as though they place value on the wellbeing of others. Unlike the atheist, they don’t actually have to genuinely feel it. The theist may only feel like acting selfishly instead, but, unlike the atheist, it would be irrational to neglect morality in favour of selfish pursuits.

    Therefore, if anyone – theist or atheist – fails to value the well-being of others, morality fails.

    Yes, for the atheist. No for the theist. A theist does not need to value the well-being of others to have a sound rational basis to act morally towards them.

    Post 382 is pretty clear about what true morality involves and why it is perfectly rational for a theist to act morally at all times. Please don’t ask me to repeat myself, I’m sure if you re-read it a few times it will sink in.

  442. 442
    Chris Doyle says:

    If God is real, Chris, there’s no reason to think that the reason we atheists value the well-being of others is because God etched it on our souls too.

    Exactly. That is the only rational explanation for atheistic morality. All other explanations, including “placing value on the welfare of others” fail spectacularly. But, of course, only theists can access that kind of knowledge.

    It is strange that the likes of you and Mark think we live in a world where everyone loves each other, where everyone takes care of everybody else, where there is no crime, where no one hurts or exploits anyone else, where nobody free-rides and where no-one is ever tempted to do immoral things because they are always unappealing. Sounds like the Garden of Eden!

    The likes of me and WJM know that the world is not like that. In the words of Don Henley, “It’s a Long Road Out of Eden”. And we are nearly at the end of it…

  443. 443
    Chris Doyle says:

    Internet Atheists single-handedly undermine the claim that atheists are moral. Just sayin’

  444. 444
    bornagain77 says:

    “Internet Atheists single-handedly undermine the claim that atheists are moral. Just sayin’”

    that ought to be a line in a William Lane Craig debate or something:

  445. 445
    keiths says:

    Chris Doyle:

    Internet Atheists single-handedly undermine the claim that atheists are moral.

    Only in your imagination, Chris.

  446. 446
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Internet Atheists single-handedly undermine the claim that atheists are moral. Just sayin’

    I’m firmly convinced that the internet brings out some of the worst parts of human nature. Folks will say incredibly awful things that they would never dare say in person. For that reason, I think it would be a serious error to infer how moral (or immoral, or amoral) someone is in ‘real life’ from their on-line behavior. Unfortunately, there is no firm line between the two, and I don’t doubt that the Internet is partly responsible for the deterioration of thoughtful conversation.

  447. 447
    Chris Doyle says:

    Says the . who cannot tell the difference between science and imagination

  448. 448
    Chris Doyle says:

    . = guy

  449. 449
    Chris Doyle says:

    But it could also mean other things 😉

    Seriously, Keith, you honestly think Internet Atheists conduct themselves morally online?

  450. 450
    LarTanner says:

    Internet theists are nothing to write home about, either.

  451. 451

    Chris said:

    Because the very reason we were put on this Earth was to make the kind of personal sacrifices required in order to treat people like X well.

    That says nothing about “valuing” others; it only says we should treat others well – as if we valued them, and to make sacrifices for them in our interaction with them.

    Liz is trying to reframe the debate.

    Liz says:

    As the value I put on the well-being of others never depended on my belief in God, then it is totally unaffected by the fact that I no longer believe in God.

    While a value may not depend upon a belief in god, that value may logically require the assumption of the exisence of god, even if one doesn’t realize it.

    When I ceased to believe in God, I figured out it got there some other way.

    As if “ceasing to believe in god” would remove what is etched in your soul by god? Rather, when you ceased to believe in god, you chose to believe that innate morality came from something else.

    I used to thank God for that. Now, I am simply thankful.

    “Thankful” to whom? To what? Are you “thankful” to physics? You’re misplacing a concept. There is no reason to be “thankful” for what physics inexorably wrought under atheism.

    Your innate “thankfulness” is yet another demonstrative reminder that you are a faux atheist – intellectually claiming to be an atheist while misappropriating theistic concepts, ideas, terms, feelings, ideas, etc., that you have no right to under the atheistic paradigm, to continue experiencing life as a theist while intellectually (and quite shallowly) dismissing the logically necessary root of that experience.

    There have been intellectually honest atheists. You and your ilk are not counted among them.

  452. 452
    Chris Doyle says:

    We’re the good guys, LT. Be nice and respectful to us and we’ll gladly return the favour.

  453. 453

    I’m firmly convinced that the internet brings out some of the worst parts of human nature. Folks will say incredibly awful things that they would never dare say in person.

    And why is that? Anonymity. The knowledge that there is no likely consequence for acting immorally or unethically. Research has shown it; the internet shows it. People tend to behave worse if the don’t think they are being watched and if they don’t thing there will be any consequences.

    Theistic morality has both of those covered, all the time. Atheistic/materialist morality sets internet behavior loose upon the world.

  454. 454

    Chris:

    Let me try and explain more clearly what I’m saying here, as we seem to have come adrift.

    When I use the world “value” I mean that we think something is “worth” having. Now, it isn’t always easy to get what is worth having. If I really want a new computer, I might have to do without beer, or do some overtime. If I really value being slim, I might have to forego cream eclairs. If I really want to get fit, I might have to “feel the burn”.

    If I really value my mother’s wellbeing as she slides into dementia, I may have to forego playing music with my friends. If I really value her contentment, I may accept her refusal to go into a care-home, and look after her myself, even though she may live a long time, and I may be starting to dement myself by the time she dies. If I really value my mother’s wellbeing, I will understand when she forgets I am her daughter, and behaves spitefully when I bring her the kind of cereal she doesn’t like.

    (You will of course recognise the story of my atheist friend here – the story is not of course mine).

    In other words, what we “want” in the immediate term is not synonymous with what we value.

    And you and I have agreed that if we value other people’s wellbeing, we will be prepared to make personal sacrifices to achieve it, just as we will if we value being slim, fit, a great violinist, our children’s future, an end to world hunger, Giant Pandas, a free and just society.

    And when we value things that are not for our own ultimate benefit, we call that morality right? To be moral is to value the wellbeing of others at least much as we value our own. It was Jesus’ commandment. It turns up over and over in theistic, polytheistic and atheistic cultures.

    So.

    I agreed that it would not be rational to make personal sacrifices for something we did not value. But it is of course perfectly rational to make personal sacrifices for things we do value, whether it is a new bike or a just world.

    Thus, if we are rational whether we are moral or not depends on what we value.

    And what we value is not strongly dependent on what we belief about god or gods. Buddhists do not believe in a god or gods, yet they value not just human wellbeing but the wellbeing of all sentient beings. And so do vast numbers of other non-theist groups. It’s a perfectly sensible thing to value.

    In other words, to be moral is a perfectly rational human goal, even though it is tough sometimes, just as slimming, or saving, or training, is tough.

    So we need no “extra” explanation for “atheist morality”. Obviously “placing value on the welfare of others” “fails spectacularly” as an explanation of “placing value on the welfare of others”! But that is not the explanation I offer for the reason we place value on the welfare of others. I think there are many, and here are a few:

    I think that as social animals we have evolved the capacity to understand what other human beings are thinking and feeling – we literally, to some extent “feel each others pain”. Our capacity for empathy is due in part to our “theory of mind” capacity – the capacity to, literally “see from another point of view”> – at least in the mind’s eye (and in a sense all seeing is done through the mind’s eye). It is probably also in part due to the fact that we are a pair-bonding species and our children are born while still helpless foetuses, unlike most mammals (but given our small pelvises and large brains, it’s just as well, and not an accident).

    But we are also a language-using species, and because we can manipulate the world in symbolic form, we can set up “if … then” scenarios, and think about the long-term consequences of possible courses of action, both for ourselves and others. And we can make rules, and laws, and pass our wisdom on to our children, thus accumulating a cultural memory of what works – what makes for a contented and productive society.

    Which turns out to be, for us, reciprocal altruism, plus a system that penalises “cheaters”.

    Now, I’m not asking you to believe my account – my theory – of where our sense that other people’s wellbeing is valuable comes from; all I’m saying is that where it comes from makes no difference to how it works.

    If we place value on the well-being of others, we are, by definition, being moral.

    Whether that valuation comes from a belief that it was etched on our souls by God, or simply an intelligent species figuring out collectively that that reciprocal valuation of each others’ wellbeing is the best way of making sure that nobody goes short.

  455. 455

    And William has said it: theistic morality works because effectively it puts an error-proof CCTV camera in the sky.

    Chris backed off, but William makes it plain.

    Theists think that atheists can’t be trusted to be moral because atheists don’t believe they are being watched, their sins numbered, and noted down for the Day of Reckoning.

    Please tell me I’m wrong, guys. You are better than this.

    And so are we.

  456. 456
    Chris Doyle says:

    But Lizzie, what if an atheist does not place value on the well-being of others? And, “others” here means any permutation of people they simply do not care about, including all minus one: AN Other?
    Why is he wrong and why are you right, rationally speaking?

  457. 457

    If we place value on the well-being of others, we are, by definition, being moral.

    No, we’re not. If I place value on the well-being of others, but ignore that value in service of my own pleasure, I am not being moral.

    Theists think that atheists can’t be trusted to be moral because atheists don’t believe they are being watched, their sins numbered, and noted down for the Day of Reckoning.

    You are once again mistaking an argument about atheism, and the logical consequences thereof, for atheists, and what atheist do or will do.

    Please tell me I’m wrong, guys. You are better than this.

    And so are we.

    No, we’re not. Study after study has shown this. Example after example demonstrates this to be true of human nature: generally, if people feel there are no consequences, and that “nobody is looking”, they behave less morally and less ethically.

    I know I behaved without regard to morality or ethics towards the end of the time I spent as an atheist – but then, I was an intellectually honest atheist. My dislike for harming people, as an atheist, was no different than my dislike for certain foods or drinks; I found that I could acquire a taste for just about anything if I tried – including harming people.

    If you don’t understand this about human nature, you are living in a dream world sustained by stolen concepts. There’s a reason for the phrase “power corrupts”; atheistic materialism is a kind of power – the power to invent one’s own rules, do whatever one wants, without any necessary consequences or absolute standards.

  458. 458
    keiths says:

    Chris Doyle:

    But Lizzie, what if an atheist does not place value on the well-being of others? And, “others” here means any permutation of people they simply do not care about, including all minus one: AN Other?
    Why is he wrong and why are you right, rationally speaking?

    But Chris, what if a theist does not place value on the purpose that God created him for? Why is he wrong and why are you right, rationally speaking? 🙂

  459. 459
    LarTanner says:

    EL

    And William has said it: theistic morality works because effectively it puts an error-proof CCTV camera in the sky.

    And what’s nice is that no matter what behavior the theist wants to engage in, that theist can find a nifty way either to construe it as the god’s will or to rationalize it as one of those situations of human fallibility.

    My opinion is that theists such as WJM and CD are primarily concerned not with atheists’ “bad behavior” but rather with their (potentially) not feeling bad about it afterwards.

  460. 460

    William:

    No, we’re not. Study after study has shown this. Example after example demonstrates this to be true of human nature: generally, if people feel there are no consequences, and that “nobody is looking”, they behave less morally and less ethically.

    You misunderstand me, William. I do not dispute that people behave more lawfully or in a more socially acceptable manner when they think someone is watching.

    I think this is as true of theists as it is of atheists.

    My point is that if the only reason you behave well is because you “think someone is watching” (whether divine or human) then while your behaviour may be less harmful to others, you are scarcely being more “moral” – you are merely valuing your own ultimate wellbeing over your present wellbeing. You are still not actually valuing the wellbeing of others for itself.

    And yet, many people do this. Like my friend, who, without fearing negative consequences in the afterlife, nor even disapproval from her social group (in fact, her group encouraged her to leave her mother more often than she did), she continued to look after her.

    Hers is a shining example, but there are countless other examples of people, theists and atheists, who simply put a high value on the wellbeing of others, and spend their lives motivated by that valuation.

    I know I behaved without regard to morality or ethics towards the end of the time I spent as an atheist – but then, I was an intellectually honest atheist.

    Well, I’m not sure you are doing yourself justice here, William, but I have to say: it is not being an “intellectually honest atheist” to behave without regard to the wellbeing of others. It’s just being immoral. It is not “dishonest”, intellectually or otherwise, for an atheist to value the wellbeing of others, anymore than it is intellectually dishonest for an atheist to value being fit, or slim, or good at playing the trombone – all things you have to make sacrifices to achieve.

    My dislike for harming people, as an atheist, was no different than my dislike for certain foods or drinks; I found that I could acquire a taste for just about anything if I tried – including harming people.

    I’m sure you could. But that seems to me a very irrational thing to do.

    If you don’t understand this about human nature, you are living in a dream world sustained by stolen concepts.

    Firstly, it’s not a “dream world” – know many people like this, and the very existence of voluntary aid agencies, for instance, bears me out. Secondly, you keep parroting this “stolen concept” mantra, but it makes no sense. There’s nothing “stolen” about valuing the wellbeing of others, any more than there’s anything “stolen” about wanting to be slim. We are a species with the capacity to value things that can require pain and sacrifice to achieve. We didn’t “steal” this. We simply discovered it.

    There’s a reason for the phrase “power corrupts”; atheistic materialism is a kind of power – the power to invent one’s own rules, do whatever one wants, without any necessary consequences or absolute standards.

    Utter nonsense.

  461. 461

    Chris:

    But Lizzie, what if an atheist does not place value on the well-being of others? And, “others” here means any permutation of people they simply do not care about, including all minus one: AN Other?
    Why is he wrong and why are you right, rationally speaking?

    We just defined morality as valuing the well-being of others, right? We agreed on that?

    So if someone regards someone else’s wellbeing as less valuable then their own present comfort, then they will choose their own present comfort, even at the cost of someone else’s wellbeing. We call that immoral behaviour.

    You seem so locked into your conviction that an atheist must be less moral than a theist you seem to have lost sight of the obvious: that this is true for both theists and atheists.

    We all do it, theist and atheist alike, just as, however much we want to be slim, we will sometimes eat that chocolate eclair. And yet there is a perfectly good rationale for treating other people well – for valuing their wellbeing – just as there is a perfectly good rationale for being slim – for valuing a healthy body.

    And so, mostly, we pull ourselves up short when we do behave selfishly, and remember that rationale and that value. Sometimes, for sure, people need reminders, and certainly, for sure, a CCTV camera, and even those cutout cardboard policemen they have in B&Q, act as reminders of the value of behaving well.

    But that doesn’t mean it is only rational to behave well if we think we will be punished if we don’t. It just means that we all need help in remembering that sometimes what we value requires a sacrifice of our present comfort to achieve. People put warning notices on their own fridges for the same reason.

  462. 462
    5for says:

    There are just very different conceptions of morals going on here. WJM and CD think it is a moral act to sacrifice your own needs for another even if you don’t feel anything for the other person, because if you don’t make the sacrifice, there will be consequences to you (at day of reckoning, in heaven etc).

    To me, and other non-theists, that is not a moral act at all as it is motivated by selfishness, not care for another person.

    Hitchens used to talk about this a lot. He had an anecdote where a cab driver in Cairo returned to him the next day with a lot of money that had fallen out of Hitchens’s pocket in the cab. Hitch was surprised but delighted – until the cab drive told he had a moral obligation under Islam and had not other choice but to return the money.

  463. 463
    vjtorley says:

    Hi KeithS,

    I’ll be putting up a special post on your split-brain case in about 18 hours. Sorry for not addressing it sooner. Cheers.

  464. 464
    keiths says:

    Hi vj,

    Good! I look forward to it. This thread is getting pretty long, anyway, and also veering off topic.

  465. 465
    Mark Frank says:

    #462 5for

    Absolutely. A nice example which illustrates the difference is the Abraham’s being prepared to sacrifice his own son because God told him to. In one view Abraham was acting morally because he was suppressing his feelings for his son in order to conform to God’s will as he saw it. In the alternative view Abraham was acting immorally because he allowed his own standing in God’s eyes (as he saw it) to take priority over his son’s life.

    (As to why God decided to subject Abraham to this mental torture – well no doubt one of the Christian’s here will explain.)

  466. 466
    keiths says:

    Chris Doyle:

    Seriously, Keith, you honestly think Internet Atheists conduct themselves morally online?

    Some do, some don’t. Just like Internet theists.

  467. 467
    Chris Doyle says:

    Morning Lizzie,

    This will be my one and only post today and you’re not going to like what follows. If you want to respond, can I suggest you take your time about it please? A rushed response which repeats stuff you’ve already said and doesn’t fully address what I’ve said below will be a waste of my time and yours. That said, I feel like it is time to bring this conversation to an end: we’ve come as far as we can without you either ditching atheism or ditching morality. I’m happy to make this my final contribution and for you to have the last word.

    We agreed that atheistic morality equates to “valuing the welfare of others”. We haven’t agreed that the same is true of theistic morality. Far from it: after all a rational theist would act morally towards someone even if he does not value their welfare. In fact, he will be performing the best kind of moral act especially if he doesn’t value their welfare.

    Until you separate these two fundamentally different kinds of morality in your reasoning (ie. atheistic morality on the one hand and theistic morality on the other), we will keep hitting a dead end.

    So if an atheist regards someone else’s wellbeing as less valuable than their own present comfort, then they will choose their own present comfort, even at the cost of someone else’s wellbeing. That would be both immoral and rational.

    But if a theist regards someone else’s wellbeing as less valuable then their own present comfort, then they will still choose someone else’s wellbeing, even at the cost of their own present comfort. That would be both moral and rational.

    “5for” provided a great little example about an anecdote from Christopher Hitchens (brother to the great Peter Hitchens) that illustrates this vast difference between theistic morality and atheistic morality:

    a cab driver in Cairo returned to him the next day with a lot of money that had fallen out of Hitchens’s pocket in the cab. Hitch was surprised but delighted – until the cab driver told him he had a moral obligation under Islam and had no other choice but to return the money.

    So, let’s assume the cab driver is a rational atheist. Sometime after dropping off Christopher Hitchens, he notices a thick wad of cash in the back seat. He asks himself, “Do I value this man’s welfare?” If the answer is no, he keeps the money. If the answer is yes, his next question is “Do I value this man’s welfare more than my own?” If the answer is no, he keeps the money. Now, even if the answer is yes to both questions, he has a strong incentive to question his motives.

    Does he really value the welfare of a stranger, more than his own? I mean, seriously: would he sacrifice his life so that Hitchens can live? Would he give him everything he owned if Hitchens really needed it? Does he even value Hitchens’ welfare at all? After all, he’s never going to see this guy again (unless he goes looking for him). He entered his existence for the length of a cab ride and now Hitchens might as well not exist. Even still, has he just been conditioned to value Hitchens’ welfare through the same kind of evolutionary instincts as those that make him want to practice reproduction as often as possible?

    Because if that is the case, isn’t he capable of ignoring evolutionary instincts? Indeed, given that free-will is an illusion, if he chooses to keep the money after all, then that is because the universe itself determined that it should be so: you can hardly blame someone for theft if he was compelled to steal by the universe: that’s duress, at best. Does he really want to be on his death-bed, on the brink of oblivion, wishing he had more fun in this one and only life rather than wasting it working long hours in a cab? He doesn’t want to look back on this day thinking, “if I only I kept that cash, I could have made that go a long way and had so much pleasure doing it”. No way! There is no reason whatsoever to value Hitchens’ welfare, certainly none to place it above his own. And frankly, it looks like he could do with the money more than Hitchens did (he might even be insured, so it’s a win-win!)

    That is irresistible reasoning: very realistic and totally sound. It is a knock-out punch for atheistic morality.

    But, here’s where we follow through with the elbow: the fact that the cab driver took the money back to Hitchens is not really an act of morality. The outcome was already determined by the universe, it could not have been any other way: he had no choice but to return the money. He does not have any true free-will! You can’t give credit to someone for something that was pre-determined by a load of molecules bashing together as per unbreakable physical laws.

    That is why atheistic morality is a complete and utter, total failure with no redeeming features whatsoever.

    Now, let’s assume the cab driver is a rational theist. Sometime after dropping off Christopher Hitchens, he notices a thick wad of cash in the back seat. He asks himself, “Do I value this man’s welfare?” The answer is no. The next question is “Is there any way I can keep this money without breaking the Moral Law?” The answer is no. The next question is “Is there any way I can break the Moral Law without having to account for that in the next life?” The answer is no. He now has a strong incentive to question his faith… but doesn’t because he already knows: he wants to please God, filled as he is with profound awe, admiration, loyalty and respect for his Creator. He wants to prove to himself that he can be moral, no matter how tempting the immoral alternative is. He loves the challenge! And his very soul is urging him to do the right thing, thanks to the divine instruction that is etched on there. There’s a whole new breed of men without souls (Internet Atheists)… he doesn’t want to live like that.

    Life is a test, and doing the morally right thing is exactly what this test is all about, it is the only reason he is here on this planet. And if he fails the test, he will pay for it in the end. Whereas, if he passes the test, it will be worth more than all the money in the world left in the back of his cab. By doing the right thing, he gets all the credit for it because he truly, freely chose it, even though it was detrimental to his self-interests.

    Of course, if he did question his faith, and became an atheist there and then: he would keep the money and have a great time with it. But, if theism is true, he gets all the blame for it because he truly, freely chose to keep it, precisely because it served his own self-interests.

    That is why theistic morality is the only kind of morality that works: it has clear Moral Imperatives that are reinforced by clear Moral Sanctions.

    Laws without sanctions, or even laws with weak sanctions are simply ineffective*. They are easily broken because you can handle the weak sanctions. Worse still, they become mere guidelines, something you can follow or ignore depending on how you feel at the time. Which is yet another problem with atheistic morality.

    Game over, Lizzie.

    PS. *This peculiar complaint that Lizzie, “5for” and Mark have raised, that what the cab driver actually did was “not a moral act at all as it is motivated by selfishness, not care for another person” is dreadfully weak. That’s like saying, “You should go to work, but never ever accept a wage: it’s not all me me me you know!” Or, “The only reason you don’t play on the motorway is because you’re afraid of being hit by a car: so selfish!”

    If selfish motivations rationally result in a life characterised by true moral works, of the unappealing kind that involve self-sacrifice, then selfish motivations are exactly what a theist needs. I have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever and never will have. You are judged by your works and there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing good works simply because you’re hoping for heavenly rewards and also hoping to steer clear of hell. There are other reasons to be moral, as I’ve already discussed, but if a theist is only motivated to be moral by the prospect of heaven or hell, that’s absolutely fine by me. If they are always rational, then they’ll still be the nicest, kindest, most peaceful, humble, selfless caring kind of person you will ever meet.

    The beauty of this test we call ‘Life’ is that although we know that heaven or hell awaits depending on how we conduct ourselves in this life, it is very much something that we won’t know about until after we die. You’ve literally got to wait an entire lifetime before you will receive what you have earned in this life. There are no rewards in this life, nor are there any punishments. And it takes enormous discipline and self-restraint to do good without reward in this life or to refrain from doing evil without punishment in this life.

    We are reasonable and intelligent beings. There has to be consequences for our works in this life, because if there truly wasn’t any, then although theists may still choose to lead a moral life for other reasons – they would have a similar rational basis as atheists have to make immoral choices. The notion that Anne Frank and Adolf Hitler are both going to exactly the same place because the acts of their existence do not affect the afterlife is so wrong, so unbelievable, that you literally have to be an atheist to believe it.

  468. 468
    Mark Frank says:

    So if an atheist regards someone else’s wellbeing as less valuable than their own present comfort, then they will choose their own present comfort, even at the cost of someone else’s wellbeing. That would be both immoral and rational.

    But if a theist regards someone else’s wellbeing as less valuable then their own present comfort, then they will still choose someone else’s wellbeing, even at the cost of their own present comfort. That would be both moral and rational.

    As they stand both are false.

    Chris has skewed the issue by talking about well-being versus present comfort. An atheist, like anyone else, will take future personal gains into account as well as the present (even if that future is somewhat shorter than for a theist) and “comfort” implies trivial benefits when an atheist is well capable of valuing deeper benefits to himself such as the satisfaction of having helped someone. So rewriting to substitute “wellbeing” for “present comfort” we get:

    So if an atheist regards someone else’s wellbeing as less valuable than their own wellbeing, then they will choose their own wellbeing, even at the cost of someone else’s wellbeing. That would be both immoral and rational.

    This is true by definition – to value A more than B and then choose B is irrational. That is what “valuing” entails.

    But if a theist regards someone else’s wellbeing as less valuable then their own wellbeing, then they will still choose someone else’s wellbeing, even at the cost of their own present comfort. That would be both moral and rational.

    False. If tthe theist values his own wellbeing more highly and is rational he will choose it – that is what “valuing it more highly” means.What may be confusing the issue is that for a theist their own well-being takes into account what happens to them after death so someone else’s well-being may coincide with their eventual well-being.

  469. 469
    Chris Doyle says:

    Well-being simply refers to this life, Mark. If it doesn’t, we can’t compare atheistic morality to theistic morality.

  470. 470
    Mark Frank says:

    An error in #468 above. Chris’s sentences are not false they are just misleading because there are other options including choosing one’s own well-being over present comfort.

  471. 471
    Mark Frank says:

    #469 Chris

    Well that’s easily addressed – let’s make up a new phrase such as “total wellbeing” which we define as the sum of all our prospects over whatever duration we think we will exist. Then use “total wellbeing” instead of wellbeing.

  472. 472

    I accept Chris’s answer, which seems to be the same as William’s: that theists are more likely than atheists to consider another person’s wellbeing even when they don’t personally value it, simply because their own ultimate well-being depends on it.

    To which I reply: that doesn’t mean theists are more moral, it’s just that they think their own self-interest is served by behaviour they think God regards as “moral”. In other words, they do unselfish things for self-serving reasons, not other-serving reasons.

    But we may have to agree to disagree on this.

    I’d now like to ask my third and last question of Chris:

    Given that, as a theist, you know that immoral acts have adverse after-life necessary consequences for you, how do you discern which acts are immoral?

  473. 473
    Alan Fox says:

    Apologies to Kairosfocus. My remarks about the sustainability of the Monserrat economy following the 1995 eruption and under the continuing threat of a further likely eruption were off-topic. I sympathize with those who continue to suffer from displacement and uncertainty.

    Human effort against the blind, unpredictable forces of nature is indeed puny.

  474. 474

    Re Internet Atheists: I’ve seen pretty appalling online behaviour from both Atheists and Christians (don’t know about other religions). What I will say is that sites run by Christians tend to be more tightly moderated for vulgar behaviour than sites run by atheists. I don’t see a lot of difference in the amount of insulting behaviour.

    However, if you look at the online behaviour on unmoderated sites (e.g. YouTube, facebook), I’d say that you see as much appalling behaviour from both groups, with nothing to choose between them.

    The perpetrators of terrorist atrocities in my lifetime, however, have been overwhelmingly theist.

    In other words: I see no evidence of any correlation whatsoever between belief or otherwise in god or gods and preparedness to insult and/or kill other people.

  475. 475
    Alan Fox says:

    Seems the atheist who who acts selflessly by, say, saving someone from drowning can claim the moral high ground.

  476. 476

    The relevance of the Montserrat story, it seems to me, is that it is an excellent example of human beings mandating their governments to use their own relative wealth to alleviate the suffering of those in need.

    Human beings are capable of enormous generosity as well as appalling cruelty. I don’t see evidence that belief in god or gods has any predictive power over which we will choose.

  477. 477
    bornagain77 says:

    As to who uses less negative words on the internet, Atheists or Theists, this recent study found:

    Study finds Christians tweet more cheerfully than atheists – 27 June 2013
    Excerpt: The research found that overall, tweets by Christians had more positive and less negative content than tweets by atheists.,,,
    However, most of the studies has relied on individuals to tell researchers about how satisfied they are with their lives or their emotional state at a given time.
    Professor Preston said: “What’s great about Twitter is that people are reporting their experiences – good or bad – as they occur.’
    ‘As researchers, we do not need to ask them how they feel because they are already telling us.’
    While the authors have drawn their conclusions that Christians appear to be happier than atheists on Twitter, they are careful to say that their results are based on observing correlations.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sci.....eists.html

    Christians happier than atheists – on Twitter – June 28 2013
    Excerpt: Two doctoral students in social psychology and an adviser analyzed the casual language of nearly 2 million tweets from more than 16,000 active users to come up with their findings, which were published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.
    The team identified subjects by finding Twitter users who followed the feeds of five prominent public figures. In the case of Christians, those select five were Pope Benedict XVI, Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, conservative political commentator Dinesh D’Souza and Joyce Meyer, an evangelical author and speaker.
    In the case of atheists, the five followed feeds included Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Monica Salcedo and Michael Shermer – the latter two respectively being a self-described “fiercely outspoken atheist” blogger, and a science writer who founded The Skeptics Society.
    With the help of a text analysis program, the researchers found that Christians tweet with higher frequency words reflecting positive emotions, social relationships and an intuitive style of thinking – the sort that’s gut-driven.
    This isn’t to say that atheists don’t use these words, too, but they out-tweet Christians when it comes to analytic words and words associated with negative emotions.
    Christians, they found, are more likely to use words like “love,” “happy” and “great”; “family,” “friend” and “team.”
    Atheists win when it comes to using words like “bad,” “wrong,” and “awful”,,,
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/.....n-twitter/

  478. 478
    5for says:

    Chris ii assume you live a Gandhi like existence and give everything you have to others. Or do you just live an immoral existence by having food clothes and shelter while others don’t have those things?

  479. 479
    bornagain77 says:

    5for, it is not immoral to have food clothing and shelter. But it is immoral to make food clothing and shelter your main, ‘selfish’, priority in life, to the detriment of yourself and others:

    Matthew 6:31-33
    So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

    Steven Curtis Chapman – More to this Life – music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndbma-BQJK8

  480. 480
    Mark Frank says:

    Returning after a few hours I see my #468 was incoherent – too early in the morning I guess. I apologise to anyone who was kind enough to try and make sense of it! Anyhow Lizzie and 5for seem to have made the important points.

  481. 481
    Chris Doyle says:

    Just a quickie:

    Lizzie, for the theist, morality is not hard to know: it is etched in our souls so we quickly realise the difference between right and wrong when we contemplate the moral decision to be taken. Actually doing the right thing or refraining from doing the wrong thing is not at all easy. But, ultimately the Book of Scripture (again, using that term in its widest sense) contains the highest moral guidance. Take both together and that is how the theist discerns which acts are immoral.

    Mark, if we’re now talking about “total well-being” then it will always be rational for a theist to be moral: no matter how much they value the welfare of others. But it will only be rational for an atheist to be moral when they both value the welfare of others, and value it above their own welfare. What would the atheistic cab driver have done, honestly?

  482. 482
    Mark Frank says:

    for the theist, morality is not hard to know: it is etched in our souls so we quickly realise the difference between right and wrong when we contemplate the moral decision to be taken. …. But, ultimately the Book of Scripture (again, using that term in its widest sense) contains the highest moral guidance. Take both together and that is how the theist discerns which acts are immoral.

    The strange thing is that theists and even Christians disagree vehemently about substantial moral issues such as contraception, homosexuality, extra-marital sex and abortion – to the extent of torturing and killing each other from time to time.

  483. 483
    Mark Frank says:

    Mark, if we’re now talking about “total well-being” then it will always be rational for a theist to be moral: no matter how much they value the welfare of others.

    If they can work out what moral is (see #482) and so long as they the value doing God’s will above everything else.

    But it will only be rational for an atheist to be moral when they both value the welfare of others, and value it above their own welfare. What would the atheistic cab driver have done, honestly?

    I have no idea what the atheist cab-driver would have done. Some atheists would be able to imagine the problems that missing the money might cause to a foreign visitor and make an effort to return the money (my wife would definitely fall into this category). Others would imagine the problems and suffer from weakness of the will (like any theist) and fail to do what they ought to do (I might well fall into this category). Another group might not even think about the consequences for Hitchens and just think it is their lucky day(and I contend many theists would fall into this group).

  484. 484
    LarTanner says:

    Comment 481:

    [F]or the theist, morality is not hard to know: it is etched in our souls so we quickly realise the difference between right and wrong when we contemplate the moral decision to be taken. Actually doing the right thing or refraining from doing the wrong thing is not at all easy. But, ultimately the Book of Scripture (again, using that term in its widest sense) contains the highest moral guidance. Take both together and that is how the theist discerns which acts are immoral.

    Let’s please be careful with language.

    Chris Doyle, I think what you are claiming is that every human being has morality “etched in” his or her soul. You are not claiming that only theists have mortality so etched in, but I think you are arguing that via theism (and only via theism) human beings can recognize this intrinsic morality.

    But this set of claims raises obvious questions:
    (1) By “morality,” what specifically is it that gets etched into the human soul?
    (2) How etched?
    (3) What’s specifically meant by “soul”?
    (4) How could we confirm or disconfirm whether the etching actually happens?
    (5) Does the exact same morality get etched into every soul?
    (6) Does the etching always ‘take,’ or do some people get etched more deeply or lightly than others?

    Ultimately, “etched in our souls” must be a figure of speech. It’s a poetic and dramatic way of saying something that many atheists and agnostics will agree with: that human beings are generally predisposed to learning and following some moral strictures.

    On the other hand, if you mean “etched in our souls” literally, I don’t see how anyone can take the claim seriously without having items #2-5 above answered in a demonstrable way (and probably independent of the teachings of holy books and commentaries).

    Even the ardent believer in gods and souls and such must finally admit that we do not yet have a generally accepted definition of what the soul is/should be> Neither do we have conclusive evidence for the existence of something matching any definition of the soul. Nor can this ardent believer explain in a verifiable way how and when (and where) the etching actually happens.

    So, I can’t tell whether you mean “etched in our souls” literally or not. If you are speaking figuratively, as makes the better option, then the full weight of everything you’ve really been arguing about falls on a simple question: (a) Can a self-consciously moral (and happy) life be lived with a secular (non-theist) philosophy?

    The social corollary to this question is (b) whether a moral and happy society can result from secular (non-theist) governance.

    I think (a) and (b) are demonstrably true. Dr. Liddle and others have given information already that supports this. Should you disagree with me, you need to explain the benefits a theistic moral philosophy that are in principle unavailable in a non-theistic philosophy. Of course, benefits are subjective, but at least on matters of taste people can disagree without hard feelings.

  485. 485
    Chris Doyle says:

    The point that you keep missing, Mark, is that we are only discussing what the rational theist would do. So, as I’ve laid out – and as you have not really disputed – if the theistic worldview is true, the rational theist would always be moral: especially if we take into account “total well-being”.

    Contrast this with the rational atheist. If he doesn’t value a given person’s welfare more than his own then it is bye-bye morality.

    This is all this discussion is about, it is frankly indisputable that, rationally-speaking, atheistic morality is a total failure and theistic morality is a total success. Indeed, theistic morality is so successful that atheists like Lizzie still practice it!

  486. 486
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi LT, I just lost a message I typed to you directly in the comment box. Probably to do with the 485 comments that are already on here! Anyway, the gist of it was:

    1. Don’t get hung up on a literal interpretation of “etched in our souls”
    2. Yes, it is about a moral pre-disposition that all human beings have, as well as an instinctive understanding of the Moral Law.
    3. No, it is not an explanation of morality that is accessible or even useful to atheists.
    4. The answer to both of your questions is no because there will be many occasions when it is irrational for an atheist to moral, rational for an atheist to be immoral and also rational for an atheist to free-ride.

    The previous message was politer and less blunt, but, hey: the universe meant there could be no other outcome 😉

  487. 487
    LarTanner says:

    Chris,

    (1) No problem. But then why use such language in the first place?
    (2) Well, you have capitalized “Moral Law,” so there must be some specific laws that make up the Moral Law. What are these laws?
    (3) Perhaps, but don’t you agree all people have access and use to moral philosophies that do not refer to gods and are not predicated on the existence of divine moral law-givers?
    (4) Perhaps, but one is no more only an atheist than you are only a theist, or son, or sibling, or [insert nationality here], or modern, or whatever. Do you believe that any of the other social groups and subgroups one belongs to will have (explicit or implicit) ethical codes that influence real moral decisions and behaviors? I do.

  488. 488
    Mark Frank says:

    his is all this discussion is about, it is frankly indisputable that, rationally-speaking, atheistic morality is a total failure and theistic morality is a total success. Indeed, theistic morality is so successful that atheists like Lizzie still practice it!

    I don’t know how to address this technique of just announcing that you are obviously right. We have all accepted that a rational atheist will behave morally if he/she cares about others. Lizzie and I and others on this discussion believe that pretty much everyone does care about others. You may disagree but that is an empirical matter and far from indisputable.

    As I have pointed out a rational theist will only behave morally if he/she wants to do God’s will. You argue that there are no such theists. Again this is not a logical matter. It is a matter of doing a survey of theists – again far from indisputable.

    Meanwhile you haven’t begun to address the problem that theists disagree deeply about what God’s will is or that your vision of theist morality is essentially self-regarding- what is best for me in the long run.

  489. 489
    Chris Doyle says:

    If you have to resort to recycling refuted arguments, Mark (refuted on this very thread no less) then you’ve clearly got nothing else interesting to say on this subject.

    You’ll just have to read my (oh no!) long posts if you want answers to your questions, Mark. I ain’t gonna repeat myself any more. Bye-s-bye!

  490. 490
    Mark Frank says:

    As Chris is not going to repeat himself any more – maybe someone can point me to a place where Chris addresses these two objections:

    * theists disagree deeply about what God’s will is

    * his vision of theist morality is essentially self-regarding as it comes down to what is best for me in the long run

  491. 491
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi LT, I said don’t get hung up on it… I didn’t say it wasn’t truthful 🙂 Clearly, an atheist cannot predicate any appeal to atheistic morality by appealing to the fact that morality is etched on our souls. No God = No soul.

    I take your final point, but remember we are only discussing what the rational theist or atheist would do. And the discussion is almost completely over as far as I’m concerned. So, this is also not the time or place to discuss the Moral Law. Another time, on another thread.

    See you then!

  492. 492

    Chris, just because you think our arguments have been refuted, doesn’t mean they have!

    I think you’ve missed something pretty crucial that’s been said here. Clearly you disagree.

    But I do appreciate the effort, truly.

    Cheers

    Lizzie

  493. 493
    LarTanner says:

    Chris,

    we are only discussing what the rational theist or atheist would do

    That’s fine. What role, then, do you think atheism specifically plays in moral decisio-making?

    Say X has no belief in gods. Now say X has to make a moral choice on something. X must have a point of reference for reasoning through what is the right thing to do. Since X wouldn’t appeal to what a certain god commanded, then X can by your account still rely on inborn predispositions. X can also evaluate moral teachings from parents, peers, and other cultural influences. X’s self-interest is one factor up for consideration in making the decision.

    Yet in all this I fail to see how non-belief works as an influencing factor, as in “because I am a non believer in gods a, b, and c, I must behave in a certain way.

  494. 494
    Chris Doyle says:

    I haven’t missed a thing, Lizzie. I assure you, neither you nor Mark offered a single new or original argument: both when you failed to defend atheistic morality; and failed to even land a blow against theistic morality.

    I admit, I feel slightly disappointed that your mind is so closed when it come to atheism. I expect it of Mark: he has always been a God-hating atheist! But, I sense that you are searching for a way back to the Straight Path, the one that you spent most of your life following. Regrettably, I am not the one who can guide you back. And you must take the first step yourself by considering that you have made a terrible mistake in embracing atheism. I do hope you reflect upon how badly atheistic morality fares when you shine the light of reason on it.

    Speaking of which, you have admitted that atheistic morality fails, effectively. It’s great when atheists do that! So, it was worth the disappointment. That’s good enough for me.

  495. 495

    Chris, there is an alternative interpretation of the data.

    At least open your mind sufficiently to consider it.

    Cheers

    Lizzie

  496. 496
    Chris Doyle says:

    Sorry LT, we are now out of time. I wish you joined in sooner! You may find the answers you are looking for in some of my earlier posts, some in the 300s, give or take a 100.

    But this will be my final post on this thread. See you on another one the next time, time permits. Until then, all the best LT.

    Over and out! Whoooooooooooooosh…

  497. 497

    Speaking of which, you have admitted that atheistic morality fails, effectively.

    And no. I was extraordinarily careful not to do that, because I do not consider it true. And you clearly know this, hence your addition of the word “effectively”.

    Here is how I see it:

    Morality consists in not serving our own well-being at the expense of the well-being of others. (I think we agree on this.)

    It follows that if we place a high value the well-being of others, we will be motivated to act morally (it will indeed be rational to do so as it is rational to be willing to sacrifice our present pleasure for what we value more).

    It follows therefore that anyone, theist or atheist, who puts a high value on the well-being of others will be a moral person.

    It follows, therefore, that the reason it is that leads someone to value the well-being of other people is irrelevant to whether they are moral or not – what matters is that they place that value on the well-being of others.

    There are many reasons why people place a high value on the well-being of others, and not all of them are theistic.

    Therefore it follows that being moral does not depend on being a theist.

    ***********************************************************

    However.

    Most people from time to time, even if they do put a high value on the well-being of others, are tempted by the high value they place on the pleasure of the present moment to devalue it. So most people behave immorally sometimes, even if their basic stance is to place a high value on the well-being of others.

    If that person is an atheist, in those moments, she may think: heck, it would be nice to keep this wodge of money left in my taxi, and the person who lost it was obviously far richer than me anyway, and my kids are hungry – I’ll keep it. Or she may not. Or she may think – but the customer might remember it and I’ll go to jail.

    If that person is a theist, in those moments, she may think: heck, it would be nice to keep this wodge of money left in my taxi, and the person who lost it was obviously far richer than me anyway, and my kids are hungry – and I probably wouldn’t go to jail. But, hang on – I might be condemned to eternal damnation in the afterlife.

    In other words, what theism does is not make a person more moral but simply acts as a super-efficient CCTV camera so that in the face of temptation, self-interest may nonetheless win the day.

    That’s what I’m taking away from this discussion.

    What did I get wrong?

  498. 498
    LarTanner says:

    EL –

    What did I get wrong?

    Your question is not made to me, but you might like to know I think you are spot on.

    I also happen to think that because a non-theist (an atheist) is not using the theist’s “CCTV camera” (I disagree that its particularly efficient), the non-theist gets her or his CCTV camera from elsewhere.

    There are plenty of sources for a moral CCTV camera, including the intrinsic/internal one that Chris and I have already discussed. Parental values, for another instance, can be particularly powerful – dare I say more powerful than theism?

    Yes, various forms of theisms assert their god as a moral police officer and ultimate judge of deeds. So what? Historically it has been weak and shifting sauce. On the other hand, non-theism does not leave a moral vacuum but simply locates the sources of real morality both in people and in social structures and institutions.

  499. 499

    Morality consists in not serving our own well-being at the expense of the well-being of others. (I think we agree on this.)

    What if an atheist decides that morality consists of doing whatever suits their own best interest?

    It’s convenient that Liz, an atheist, agrees with the morality as defined and espoused by the theist. The problem, though, is under atheism their agreed-upon moral basis is not an objective standard – they just happen to agree on it.

    Under atheistic relativism, morality is whatever anyone believes it to be. How would Liz respond to a morality that did not place value on other human beings? Or to a morality that selectively placed values on other human beings – say, only human beings of the same race, or only adult males?

    That is where atheisic “morality” more obviously collapses, and where few atheists will maintain intellectual honesty.

  500. 500

    Say X has no belief in gods. Now say X has to make a moral choice on something. X must have a point of reference for reasoning through what is the right thing to do. Since X wouldn’t appeal to what a certain god commanded, then X can by your account still rely on inborn predispositions. X can also evaluate moral teachings from parents, peers, and other cultural influences. X’s self-interest is one factor up for consideration in making the decision.

    If one accepts morality as nothing more than subjectively invented behavioral guidelines with no necessary consequences, why bother will all that? What’s the point?

  501. 501

    If, as Liz says, morality “is” “valuing others above one’s own desires”, it begs the question: why should I value others above my own desires?

    It also begs the question, who says that is what morality is?

  502. 502
    LarTanner says:

    WJM @ 500,

    Who accepts that definition of morality as “nothing more than subjectively invented behavioral guidelines with no necessary consequences”? Not me. I don’t think EL or keiths or anyone else, either.

    But even if – for argument’s sake – our hypothetical person named X holds to your pet definition, wouldn’t you also say that X has adopted for herself/himself a certain standard by which s/he agrees to live?

    Maybe X read the Confucian Analects and decided to model a personal morality on that. Or maybe X was heavily influenced by the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. Or perhaps X adopted the Sayings of the Fathers from the great Jewish sages.

    In each instance, the subject, X, has chosen the principles and precepts of a moral life and decided to try and live accordingly.

    X then faces two consequences in actions/behaviors that fail to meet the standards: (1) the practical real-world consequences of interacting with people [e.g., X insults Y, Y gets angry or violent, perhaps], and (2) the psychic consequences of dealing with moral failure.

    X’s specific theory of morality might not concern me so much as X’s actual practiced moral values. I would be more concerned if X held to no moral code whatsoever, in either theory or practice. Wouldn’t you?

  503. 503

    Well, fortunately Chris and I seemed to agree on that.

    My answer would be that we simply do not use the concept for anything else. We use the word “ought” for things that we value but which conflict with our present pleasures.

    We do not use the word to refer to an “ought” that refers to our future pleasure – we usually call that “self-discipline”. So that really leaves other people as the other “ought”.

    I guess a few people do think that they are exercising some kind of moral discipline when they do something painful now to increase their pleasure in the future, but they seem to be in a minority.

    So I think there are only those two options. And as the other-centred “ought” is the one we adopt at the level of a society, it’s the one that tends to get the label.

    I don’t think this is rocket science.

    And you certainly don’t have to be a theist to figure it out, although having figured it out, you might be led to infer good God as its origin.

  504. 504

    It strikes me that most arguments about morality is not what it is (valuing the well-being of others ) but what that entails: who counts as an “other” (cf “who is my neighbour?); what constitutes her well-being?

    That’s why I love that Einstein quotation I quoted at 375.

  505. 505

    My answer would be that we simply do not use the concept for anything else. We use the word “ought” for things that we value but which conflict with our present pleasures.

    Who is “we”? Morality doesn’t mean “valuing others above self” to me. Morality doesn’t mean “valuing others above self” for billions; for billions of people, morality means “doing god’s will”. Most religious people value god’s will, and what is right, above “other people” and their feelings, or even their well-being (if the two contradict). You’re not the queen, Liz, and you don’t speak for “we”.

    So I think there are only those two options.

    So you get to decide what the only two options are when it comes to defining what morality is? You are attempting a definitional fiat here – that morality can only mean that which comports with what you have a good argument prepared for – but, the problem is, that your “queen’s we” assertion doesn’t comport either with the position that morality is a subjective, culuture to culture, person to person feeling, nor with how billions have defined “morality” for thousands of years.

    And as the other-centred “ought” is the one we adopt at the level of a society, it’s the one that tends to get the label.

    As I argued at the other sight, your idea that morality is about how to best keep a society functioning is in disagreement with a large number of people – perhaps a majority. Most people, I’d wager, don’t consider “morality” and the idea of “how a society can best function to keep the most people happy” the same thing.

    I don’t think this is rocket science.

    The implication here, of course, is that everyone (billions!) that disagree with your definitional fiat are dumb.

    And you certainly don’t have to be a theist to figure it out, although having figured it out, you might be led to infer good God as its origin.

    You have to be a theist to be able to rationally justify a sound moral structure. Without god, all you have are stolen concepts and definitional fiats.

  506. 506

    Maybe X read the Confucian Analects and decided to model a personal morality on that.

    If one is an atheist,why? Why bother?

    Or maybe X was heavily influenced by the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. Or perhaps X adopted the Sayings of the Fathers from the great Jewish sages.

    If one is an atheist, why bother? What’s the point?

    In each instance, the subject, X, has chosen the principles and precepts of a moral life and decided to try and live accordingly.

    If one is an atheist, why bother? What’s the point?

    X then faces two consequences in actions/behaviors that fail to meet the standards: (1) the practical real-world consequences of interacting with people [e.g., X insults Y, Y gets angry or violent, perhaps], and (2) the psychic consequences of dealing with moral failure.

    None of which are necessary; they are haphazard and arbitrary. Bad acts can as easily lead to good fortune as good acts can lead to bad fortune.

    X’s specific theory of morality might not concern me so much as X’s actual practiced moral values. I would be more concerned if X held to no moral code whatsoever, in either theory or practice. Wouldn’t you?

    Irrelevant to the argument. The argument is about the logical ramifications of atheistic/subjective morality, not how any particular person acts.

  507. 507
    LarTanner says:

    WJM, You are just being silly and obtuse in 506. Do you have something serious to say?

    Do you think a non-theist must, by necessity, hold dogmatically to not-subscribing to any moral principles whatsoever?

  508. 508
    5for says:

    It’s a strange world that WJM and Chris Doyle live in, that’s all I can say.

  509. 509
    5for says:

    I just can’t recognise anything I know about humanity in what they say. But then I live in a country where religion really does not feature in our discourse.

  510. 510

    You have to be a theist to be able to rationally justify a sound moral structure. Without god, all you have are stolen concepts and definitional fiats.

    So you keep asserting, but without rationale.

    We could as easily (more easily) say that theists have stolen morality from humanity.

    Which is fine. Help yourself.

  511. 511
    Mark Frank says:

    William #505

    If you and Liz mean different things by the word “moral” then all we are disagreeing over is the meaning of a word. It doesn’t matter very much and can be settled by defining our terms. We could perhaps define “moral1” as “value others above ourselves” and “moral2” as “do God’s will” – end of dispute.

    But actually I think the dispute is substantial and we all mean the same thing when we describe an act as moral or immoral. And as we atheists don’t believe in God we clearly don’t mean “doing God’s will”. But if you mean the same as us then you it follows that you don’t mean “doing God’s will” either.

  512. 512

    If you and Liz mean different things by the word “moral” then all we are disagreeing over is the meaning of a word.

    That’s not what is going on. Liz’s is making the case that moral means X or Y; I’m making the case that there is no reason why, under atheism, that should be the case. It isn’t a disagreement over the deifnition of a word, it’s a disagreement over what definitions are allowable under her premise of atheism. If, under atheism, morality is subjective, then Liz has no right to confine definitions to that which is convenient to her argument, especially since her definitions fly in the face of common usage of the term for hundreds of years by billions of people.

    It doesn’t matter very much and can be settled by defining our terms. We could perhaps define “moral1? as “value others above ourselves” and “moral2? as “do God’s will” – end of dispute.

    You don’t understand the nature of the argument. If morality is relative, Liz has no right to declare what “morality” is, and is not. Therefore, she’s committing a definitional fiat. Under atheism, morality nor more significantly means “value others above personal desires” than it means “fly airplanes into buildings and kill the inffidels”. It’s not an argument about which definition we agree upon, but rather what kinds of morality are justified under one’s premise. Under atheism, any kind of morality is equally justifiable, so for Liz to say that morality “is” aobut valuing others is of no more significance than if I say it is about killing rabbits.

    But actually I think the dispute is substantial and we all mean the same thing when we describe an act as moral or immoral. And as we atheists don’t believe in God we clearly don’t mean “doing God’s will”. But if you mean the same as us then you it follows that you don’t mean “doing God’s will” either.

    I do think that being moral means “doing God’s will”, or more aptly, serving God’s purpose – whether it apparently helps others or not.

  513. 513

    So you keep asserting, but without rationale.

    I’ve provided the rationale several times, on several threads. You simply refuse to address the question of those that do not begin with the definition of morality that you have asserted semi-universal, without support, by employing the Queen’s “we”.

    We could as easily (more easily) say that theists have stolen morality from humanity.

    Under subjective morality, I’m sure it’s relatively easy to say anythiing that promotes your view.

  514. 514

    Do you think a non-theist must, by necessity, hold dogmatically to not-subscribing to any moral principles whatsoever?

    No, my point is that under atheism, there’s no reason to concern oneself with moral systems. If an atheist wants to adopt some moral system so they can feel good about themselves, my advice would be to skip the middle man, drop the moral system and just feel good about yourself without the psychological crutch of some made-up “morality”.

  515. 515
    Mark Frank says:

    WM #512

    It isn’t a disagreement over the deifnition of a word, it’s a disagreement over what definitions are allowable under her premise of atheism.

    I don’t understand how a meaning can not be allowed under atheism or indeed any other ..ism. Who is forbidding it? We don’t generally have rules that say the meanings of words are only allowed under certain worldviews.

    Assuming we all mean the same by the word “moral” (and if not what are arguing about) then surely the question is simply what is that meaning?

  516. 516
    Alan Fox says:

    Just passing on a meesage for KeithS in case anyone is unaware, due to technical issues so far unclarified by “management”, KeithS is currently unable to post comments at Uncommon Descent. Anyone interested in further discussion is cordially invited to The Skeptical Zone where Keith can be found alive and well.

  517. 517
    Alan Fox says:

    Those pesky meeses! Message!

  518. 518

    WJM

    No, my point is that under atheism, there’s no reason to concern oneself with moral systems. If an atheist wants to adopt some moral system so they can feel good about themselves, my advice would be to skip the middle man, drop the moral system and just feel good about yourself without the psychological crutch of some made-up “morality”.

    What makes morality a “psychological crutch”? It seems to be an excellent system for ensuring we all get a society that is good to live in.

    If that’s a crutch, bring on the crutches! Nothing wrong with crutches if they mean you can get around better than without them!

  519. 519

    WJM

    I’ve provided the rationale several times, on several threads. You simply refuse to address the question of those that do not begin with the definition of morality that you have asserted semi-universal, without support, by employing the Queen’s “we”.

    Not persuasively, in my view.

    The “we” is not the Queen’s, nor yet mine, but human users of language. Why else would we (human beings) have universally AFAIK found a use for the word “ought” (or its non-English equivalents)?

    And why else would we (human beings) have developed cultural systems for maximising the probability that other-centred oughts will be executed? We also have systems that maximise the probability that “self-oughts” will be executed (WeightWatchers, for instance), but we give them a different name.

    But whether we call the “other-ought” principle “morality” or “as;ldkjf;ldfj” – is it not absolutely clear that universally, the “other-ought” principle has a name and is different from the “self-ought” principle?

    Is it really so difficult to imagine that atheists can make that distinction?

  520. 520
    Andre says:

    Dr Liddle

    Why do you block porn on your website?

  521. 521
    Alan Fox says:

    Why do you block porn on your website?

    Blame Akizmet. No other blocks exist. But there are plenty of other sources if you are looking for porn, André!

  522. 522

    Andre:

    Dr Liddle

    Why do you block porn on your website?

    Well, the vast majority is blocked automatically as part of Akizmet, as Alan says, and most spam and spammers are automatically blocked as well.

    The only time I have to make a manual decision as it were, is if a regular poster posts malware (not so far) or illegal stuff (not so far) or porn (happened once), and the reason is that I want my site to be safe for people to visit, and for them not to have to worry that any links people provide, or images they post are going to be of or to stuff that they wouldn’t want on their computer.

    And if a poster does do that, then they will be banned permanently, because I simply do not want to take the risk that they may do it again.

    There are no other criteria for banning, although it is possible that something I haven’t thought of may come up.

    My principle is that anyone can comment, and most people can post, but they may have to ask, because I have to set the permission manually.

    And you’d be very welcome Andre! Just let me know if and when you register (which will allow you to comment), if you would like to post an OP.

  523. 523
    Andre says:

    So a picture of some people having sex will make my computer explode if I open it and that’s the only reason? Or perhaps by making it safe on your site, I will not get HIV?

    Seriously Dr Liddle Do you ban porn because the links are unsafe or do you ban porn because it has an unsavory element?

    I’m not sure why answers are always cloaked in a million reasons.

    Do you Dr Liddle find porn offensive or not is what I should have asked?

  524. 524

    If there are multiple answers to your question, Andre, I will give more than one.

    But many people (including myself) do not want to inadvertently download porn, or have porn links recorded in their browing history, for many reasons. It could be that they find porn offensive; it could be that they don’t want other people to conclude that they were searching for porn (when they were not).

    And so I will ban anyone who posts such links or material on my site.

    If you were asking whether I personally find porn offensive, then why didn’t you ask it straight?

    However, you have now. And I will not answer it.

  525. 525

    But I do have one for you, Andre:

    If someone posted a porn link here at UD, would you expect Barry to ban the poster?

  526. 526

    Not persuasively, in my view.

    There’s a difference between providing rationales, and whether or not anyone in particular finds those rationales persuasive. You claimed I merely repeated assertions without rationales, which is a false claim. If lack of being persuasive voided the existence of lengthy rationales, then you have never provided a rationale for any of your assertions because they have not persuaded me.

    See how that works?

    The “we” is not the Queen’s, nor yet mine, but human users of language. Why else would we (human beings) have universally AFAIK found a use for the word “ought” (or its non-English equivalents)?

    “Ought” doesn’t necessarily refer to anything moral. All you are doing here is doubling down on the Queen’s “we” by insinuating that all humans agree with your definitional fiat.

    And why else would we (human beings) have developed cultural systems for maximising the probability that other-centred oughts will be executed? We also have systems that maximise the probability that “self-oughts” will be executed (WeightWatchers, for instance), but we give them a different name.

    Once again, you are simply insisting on your definitional fiat as having exclusive rights to the word “morality”. Pease note, I’m not arguing that your “how to treat others” is not an acceptable moraly system under atheism, but only that if morality is subjective, and from a historical and current sampling perspective, “how we ought treat others” does not exhaust the potential definitions of what morality means.

    In fact, I cannot find a single definition of “morality” that refers to “how we treat others”. All the dictionaries I’ve looked at define morality as a code about how people should behave; “towards others” doesn’t even get mentioned.

    As I have repeatedly pointed out, many people think (and have thought) that morality has to do with obeying the will of God, whether that will has anything to do with “others” or not. I’ve been involved with other spiritualties where “morality” has nothing whatsoever to do with others – it’s only about obeying what is true for oneself.

    But whether we call the “other-ought” principle “morality” or “as;ldkjf;ldfj” – is it not absolutely clear that universally, the “other-ought” principle has a name and is different from the “self-ought” principle?

    Is it really so difficult to imagine that atheists can make that distinction?

    You see, when you insist on avoiding the very point that I make, gloss over it and continue on as if your definition of what morality is about is “the” necessary definiton, and that “we” should all agree with it despite the fact that your definition is nowhere to be found except in your arguments, my conclusion is that you are either unconsciously or willfully simply ignoring the glaring hole in your arguments about morality.

    Yes, you have a compelling argument if we all agree to your idiosyncratic definition of what morality is, but that’s the very point, the very problem, that you are ignoring: unless you are claiming that morality is absolute, and that nobody has a right to define it differently than you, then all your arguments that follow from your defintion are irrelevant.

    They are irrelevant because there is no necessary reason for an atheist, who agrees that morality is not absolute, to commit to your definition of morality in the first place. Everyone, under atheism, is free to invent their own definition of morality, and your system has no justifiable means, other than might makes right (because I say so) to disagree with, condemn or put a stop to any other behavior that anyone calls moral, including exterminating Jews and torturing children for fun.

    IOW, under the premise (subjective morality) that allows you to cling to your particular, idiosyncratic definition of “morality”, others are free to invent or cling to their idiosyncratic definitions of morality. Thus your founding premise – atheistic, subjective morality – validates gassing Jews, tossing imperfect babies off of cliffs, mutilating genitalia of infants or children, burning witches, beheading homosexuals – anything – as just as intrinsically moral as anything else.

  527. 527

    What makes morality a “psychological crutch”? It seems to be an excellent system for ensuring we all get a society that is good to live in.

    If someone want to try and life their life in a way that “will help ensure that we all get a society that is good to live in” (whatever that happens to mean to any particular individual), there is no reason to organize such choices under the term “morality”. Your question assumes your conclusion – that a system with such a goal “is” what necessarily defines morality.

    If that’s a crutch, bring on the crutches! Nothing wrong with crutches if they mean you can get around better than without them!

    There’s no compelling reason to use the term “morality” for one’s behavior if anyone is free to define any behavior as “moral”. If morality is subjective, and anyone can define any behvior as “moral”, calling what you do “moral” can only be a psychological, self-serving crutch intended to make yourself feel better about whatever you do – and a pretty hollow, self-deceptive crutch at that.

    My advice is to quit lying to yourself. Under atheism and subjective morality, saying X is moral is no different than saying not-X is moral. It’s a meaningless claim.

  528. 528

    Realizing that Dr. Liddle lives in what is pretty much a socialist country, I can see why she is so fixated on the “good-society” concept as a definition of morality; “morality”, under socialism, is redefined as “what is good for the state”. So ingrained is this concept of state-as-moral-goal that she cannot imagine others not accepting her socialist definition of morality.

  529. 529
    LarTanner says:

    WJM at 14

    No, my point is that under atheism, there’s no reason to concern oneself with moral systems. If an atheist wants to adopt some moral system so they can feel good about themselves, my advice would be to skip the middle man, drop the moral system and just feel good about yourself without the psychological crutch of some made-up “morality”.

    The logic of the first statement says:

    (1) Only ‘theism’ gives one a reason to be concerned with moral systems.

    This premise is clearly, self-evidently false.

    On the one hand, if you mean theism/atheism as ontological statements — ‘is’ statements — then strictly speaking neither theism nor atheism logically gives one a reason to be concerned about moral systems.

    On the other hand, if you mean theism/atheism as worldviews — ideological positions — then atheism has a philosophical freedom unavailable to theism, meaning that the atheist is open to moral precepts and principles from different groundings.

    Any philosophy 101 course surveys the problems of attempting to ground ethics in divinities. It simply doesn’t work. The same course also review more realistic approaches (non-theist) to grounding morality.

    And finally, you don’t explain why an atheist shouldn’t concern oneself with moral systems. Even if atheism itself gave one no reason to behave morally to consider morality itself — so what? You seem to agree that atheism does not prevent one from concerning herself or himself with morality. You also seem to agree that atheism doesn’t discourage one from pursuing morality. I don’t see what your problem is with atheism, especially when theism – to the extent that it pushes ‘morality’ in your world – often forces the believer to bigoted views and to un-loving behavior.

  530. 530

    (1) Only ‘theism’ gives one a reason to be concerned with moral systems.

    This premise is clearly, self-evidently false.

    I meant, only theism offers a necessary reason to consider morality. Atheism offers no such necessary reason to care about morality.

  531. 531
    LarTanner says:

    WJM: “Atheism offers no such necessary reason to care about morality.”

    On the contrary. Atheism offers every necessary reason to care about morality.

    Think about it.

  532. 532

    So, in a more succinct way:

    If one’s metaphysical premise allows both X and not-X to be equally valid moral statements, it’s nonsensical to care if X is moral or not.

  533. 533
    Andre says:

    I’m trying to think about it, but since survival of the fittest is all there is why should I care about some cripple holding me back Lartanner? Seriously he is just holding me back.

  534. 534
    Andre says:

    Dr Liddle

    Deflecting the question with a question is not so cool, I’m trying to establish if you consider porn a moral issue or not? What is your view on it?

  535. 535
    LarTanner says:

    WJM @ 532, I don’t understand what you are trying to say.

    To make an argument, you need three elements. There is the claim, first of all. This is the position you wish to defend. Next, you should supply evidence in support of the claim. Finally, the warrant explains the logic connecting the evidence to the claim. This part can be tricky, so it needs to be worked through patiently and carefully.

    If made your case with due attention to all three elements, I think everyone — including you — would benefit.

  536. 536
    Alan Fox says:

    I’m trying to establish if you consider porn a moral issue or not?

    Are you? Honestly? Why not then post an OP at TSZ? You may get all sorts of interesting responses. My concern with porn would be with exploitation of vulnerable individuals. Morality (in the Mrs Grundy sense) less so.

  537. 537
    Andre says:

    Why would the exploitation of individuals even bother you Alan?

  538. 538
    Alan Fox says:

    Why should it not? I care more about what happens in this life because it’s all we get.

  539. 539
    Joe says:

    If this is the only life we get then why should you care at all?

  540. 540

    Andre

    Deflecting the question with a question is not so cool, I’m trying to establish if you consider porn a moral issue or not? What is your view on it?

    I’m not “deflecting” it. I simply declined to answer it.

    If you want to have a conversation on the morality of porn, feel free to write a post at TSZ. But it seems utterly irrelevant to this thread.

  541. 541

    I meant, only theism offers a necessary reason to consider morality. Atheism offers no such necessary reason to care about morality.

    Possibly only theism provides a self-interested motive to be unselfish.

    Fortunately most people have non-self-interested motives.

  542. 542

    Andre:

    I’m trying to think about it, but since survival of the fittest is all there is why should I care about some cripple holding me back Lartanner? Seriously he is just holding me back.

    YOu are confusing a scientific rule with a moral precept. There’s no more moral reason to trample on the weak because of natural selection than there is to lie on the ground because of gravity.

    As for why you should care – because a society in which each seeks the welfare of others is a better society for all, and one that is a lot more enjoyable to live in.

  543. 543

    Possibly only theism provides a self-interested motive to be unselfish.

    Fortunately most people have non-self-interested motives.

    That’s not a substantive response, that’s only emotional pleading – unless, of course, you can support your claim that “most people have non-self-interested motives”.

    You see, when you respond like this and do not address my long rationale about the inadequacy of the atheistic premise and the self-serving definitional fiat you keep applying, and about how you have no premise, definitional or evidential support for your idiosyncratic “Queen’s we” assertions about “what morality is”, then later claim I’ve provided “no rationale”, it seems to me that you are either subconsciously or willfully simply ignoring the big gaping hole in your “morality narrative” that I pointed out above and in prior conversations.

    Instead of responding rationally to the points, you respond with emotional and “Queen’s we” pleading.

    Perhaps you can answer some simple questions.

    Do you think a lot of religious people believe that “morality” is about serving the will of god, whether or not it makes “other people” happy?

    If so, do you agree that under the atheistic premise of subjective morality, they are as entitled to their definition of what morality is about as you are?

  544. 544
    Andre says:

    Dr Liddle

    Surely morals evolved, is evolution not scientific I’m trying to establish what your morals are based on Dr Liddle.

  545. 545

    That’s not a substantive response, that’s only emotional pleading – unless, of course, you can support your claim that “most people have non-self-interested motives”.

    It’s not “emotional pleading” at al. Your argument boils down to the argument that theists will do what they think is moral, even if they don’t care about other people, because they believe that they don’t they will suffer adverse consequences after death.

    My argument that people do exactly the same things (care about other people) that you call “moral” simply because they care about other people.

    I don’t mind what we call it – being nice, being moral, being altruistic, or whatever – but the only thing theism adds, according to you, is a self-interest motive to do it.

    And yes, there is absolutely pots of evidence that people care about other people for no other motive than their concern for those people. I gave you the example of my atheist friend, but there are countless others, and countless secular organisations devoted to caring for other people.

    That’s because most people value not only their own welfare but the welfare of others. That may seem irrational to you, but it’s not irrational to most people. Most people want to live in a society where people take care of other people, so they do their bit.

    You see, when you respond like this and do not address my long rationale about the inadequacy of the atheistic premise and the self-serving definitional fiat you keep applying, and about how you have no premise, definitional or evidential support for your idiosyncratic “Queen’s we” assertions about “what morality is”, then later claim I’ve provided “no rationale”, it seems to me that you are either subconsciously or willfully simply ignoring the big gaping hole in your “morality narrative” that I pointed out above and in prior conversations.

    Well, in my view, William, I have addressed it many times. So there really isn’t a lot of point going round the circle once again.

    Perhaps you can answer some simple questions.

    Do you think a lot of religious people believe that “morality” is about serving the will of god, whether or not it makes “other people” happy?

    Most religious people I know think that morality is about serving the will of God, and that that will includes caring for other people. I know of know religious people personally who would care more about doing what they thought God wanted than about other people, but there is at least a strand of Christian thinking that alleges that this would be correct – for example, slaughtering the men of your enemy, and their male children, and kidnapping their women for salves; killing your beloved son – if God commanded it. Fortunately I think most people would ignore such a command. On the rare occasions when they don’t, the tend to end up in high-security mental hospitals.

    In other words, religious people recognise what is of God by what is good, not the other way round. In my experience.

    If so, do you agree that under the atheistic premise of subjective morality, they are as entitled to their definition of what morality is about as you are?

    What “atheistic premise of subjective morality”?

    I know of no such premise.

  546. 546

    Andre:

    Dr Liddle

    Surely morals evolved, is evolution not scientific I’m trying to establish what your morals are based on Dr Liddle.

    On the principles of what makes for a peaceful and productive society.

  547. 547
    Alan Fox says:

    Surely morals evolved…

    Well, there’s an argument to be made that some human behaviour is innate and subject to selection; suckling of new-borns, for example. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the basics of our tendency to organize socially has an innate element. Religion may have such a firm hold on the human psyche for that reason.

    There’s no such thing as objective morality for anyone, of course.

  548. 548
    Axel says:

    EL, with the context you give here, it is easy to see how ‘you believed you believed’ in Christianity, throughout most of your life, without any requirement of a personal relationship with God. It was, however, a notional allegiance very much in line with the atheists’ accusation of a merely conventional, cultural inheritance.

    It is therefore perfectly foreseeable that there would be a ‘falling away’ from the faith, since Christianity was scarcely a bedrock world-view for you at any time, and your claim of life-long, formal, Christian belief, highly questionable.

    No-one is in a position to disparage you for the fecklessness or tepidity of that Christian ‘belief’ or want thereof, since God intended that we should all be free agents in that regard; but to identify yourself as a life-long Christian believer is, at best, disingenuous.

    You may consider this off-topic, but you seem to have a very catholic taste for props, which on examination turn out to be specious, and that is my reason raising the matter.

  549. 549
    Alan Fox says:

    …to identify yourself as a life-long Christian believer is, at best, disingenuous.

    That old “no true scotsman” line is a bit tired, Axel. Can anyone come up with an OP on, I don’t know, something about new developments in ID science? That would make a change!

  550. 550

    Axel:

    In case you missed my response to you the last time you posted this ridiculous surmise, I copied it over at TSZ.

    The original is here.

    Please at least read it before you post again that my “Christianity was scarcely a bedrock world-view for you at any time, and your claim of life-long, formal, Christian belief, highly questionable.”

    And, if you still think so, then I must accuse you of “hyperskepticism”.

  551. 551
    Andre says:

    Dr Liddle

    So if killing those that are skeptical of claim that God exist,creates a peaceful society, you will accept that as moral?

    Oh ok….

  552. 552

    I wouldn’t, no, Andre.

    I can’t see how doing the very thing that you want to see not done can make the thing you want to see not done less likely.

    But unfortunately it’s been done too often in the past by those certain that that that’s what their morality entailed, either mythically, as with the alleged genocide of the Canaanites, or in practice, as with such things as the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre. Or 9/11.

    Or indeed the Stalin purges, or Hitler’s holocaust.

    It is not only contradictory, it doesn’t even work. Probably because it’s contradictory.

    I don’t think there are any easy answers to the question of what actions are moral (although it seems to me that the Golden Rule is a pretty good foundation).

    What I’m pretty sure of is that thinking you know God’s will (or the will of the gods) and doing that, isn’t a guarantee that you will be doing a moral thing.

    Theism might be an incentive to do a moral thing you would otherwise not bother with, but it sure as eggs doesn’t tell you reliably what the moral thing is.

  553. 553
    Andre says:

    Dr Liddle,

    I’m confused,what’s best for a peaceful society was your claim, so if it comes to that and you now strongly disagree with your own claim of morality then it should be clear to you that morality is in actual fact not subjective, but rather objective, some just seem to ignore that until are put in a particular position. A materialist may offer his voice on morals being subjective until he is the victim of an immoral act, like robbery.

  554. 554

    Andre, I don’t think that “morals are subjective”.

    William just Made That Up.

    I think moral principles are fairly objective, just as we can be reasonably objective about some other things that independent observers can agree to be the case.

    I just don’t think there is some absolute code of morality Out There, somewhere, and even if there were, given that there’s no way of knowing what it is, we have to figure out what it’s likely to be anyway.

    And, independently, many cultures, for fairly obvious reasons, have come up with the idea that reciprocal altruism (aka The Golden Rule) lies at the heart of it.

    Of course what constitutes the best interest of others, and who those others are, can be, and is, hotly debated, but I see very little disagreement among human beings that morality consists of treating others as you would be treated yourself.

    I think that is as objective as we are going to get, by any method.

  555. 555

    William just Made That Up.

    No, I didn’t. You are the one equivocating here, by using half-truths and obfuscating terminology for your own purposes. Your use of the term “objective” is idiosyncratic – you mean “agreed upon” or “consensus”, not objective as in something that exists independent of our perception or interpretation of it, independent of our feelings or biases.

    I think moral principles are fairly objective, just as we can be reasonably objective about some other things that independent observers can agree to be the case.

    Does morality exist independently of anyone’s perception of it? All you are doing here is conveniently and improperly extending the term “objective” in order to deceptively avoid admitting that under atheism, morality is subjective. That most people agree apple is the best tasting pie doesn’t make it “fairly objective” or “reasonably objective” that apple pie tastes the best. A general consensus of a subjective feeling does not turn a subjective commodity into an objective commodity, a “fairly” objective commodity, or a “reasonably” objective commodity.

    Of course what constitutes the best interest of others, and who those others are, can be, and is, hotly debated, but I see very little disagreement among human beings that morality consists of treating others as you would be treated yourself.

    More unsupportable and deceptive “Queen’s we” assertions that fly in the face of history and logic, simply ignoring that what there is “little disagreement” about, historically and even currently, is that morality consists of doing God’s will, regardless of what that means in terms of treating others.

    I think that is as objective as we are going to get, by any method.

    Note the continued equivocation about what “objective” means.

  556. 556
    Proton says:

    I admire Elizabeth’s patience when dealing with all these Christians zealots and their twisted religion-biased logic.

    It especially makes me angry that theists and Christians are put in the same bag. As a theist and ID myself I find it nerve-wrecking to see that one of the most important ID sites is run by religious zealots.

    It’s irritating to see ID’s principle of “going where the evidence leads” being lost completely when Christians start preaching their religious ideas as truth and ignore evidence completely, they make us IDs look like hypocrites.

    And then IDs don’t like when we’re called creationists or IDiots…*sigh*

  557. 557

    I am using “objective”, William, to mean: can be agreed upon by independent observers.

    I use “subjective” to mean something that can only be ascertained by an individual.

    So we (lots of people) can agree that the sky is objectively blue – independent observers can look at the sky and agree that it is blue. But the subjective blueness of the sky may be a very different experience for different people.

    I do not think that morality is “subjective” – I do not think that only I can understand what I mean by morality. I think it can be shared, I think it can be agreed, and I think it is agreed. I think that’s as objective as we can get.

    You seem to be using the word to mean something like “absolute”. Perhaps you know what you mean by that, but I don’t. Nonetheless, the antonym of “absolute” is not “subjective”. I do not think that morality is “subjective”.

    I do think that when weighing up two evils, we have to consider their relative evil, so in that sense I do not think that morality is absolute either.

    But I do not think it makes sense to say that morality can be anything anyone wants it to be, or experiences it to be.

    So I do not think that morality is subjective, under atheism” or anything else.

    Merriam Webster btw, gives these four primary meanings:

    1 a : relating to or existing as an object of thought without consideration of independent existence —used chiefly in medieval philosophy
    b : of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind [objective reality] [our reveries … are significantly and repeatedly shaped by our transactions with the objective world — Marvin Reznikoff] — compare subjective 3a
    c of a symptom of disease : perceptible to persons other than the affected individual — compare subjective 4c
    d : involving or deriving from sense perception or experience with actual objects, conditions, or phenomena
    2 : relating to, characteristic of, or constituting the case of words that follow prepositions or transitive verbs
    3 a : expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations
    b of a test : limited to choices of fixed alternatives and reducing subjective factors to a minimum

    I am using it in sense 1 b.

    You appear to be using it in something more like sense 1 a (the medieval one).

    Subjective is not the antonym of that medieval sense. It is, however, according to M-W, the antonym of sense b.

  558. 558

    It’s not “emotional pleading” at al.

    Yes, it is, and you continue your emotional pleasing:

    Your argument boils down to the argument that theists will do what they think is moral, even if they don’t care about other people, because they believe that they don’t they will suffer adverse consequences after death.

    No, my argument is about the logical problems of atheistic morality. Nothing more, nothing less. What the shortcomings may be of theistic morality is a different argument altogether.

    You continue inserting the point about theists “only” dong good things to avoid the consequences for doing bad, when it has nothing to do with my argument, to score emotional points. Thus, emotional pleading.

    My argument that people do exactly the same things (care about other people) that you call “moral” simply because they care about other people.

    Once again, you falsely imply that your morality is the only kind of morality that exists – “caring about other people”. You’re so myopic about this that you simply refuse to really consider that most people, throughout time, consider morality – “how they should behave” to be about the will of god, or about pleasing god or gods.

    “Caring about other people, for many if not most theists, is not “what morality is about”, but rather is simply a general byproduct of obeying God’s will, or pleasing God.

    I don’t mind what we call it – being nice, being moral, being altruistic, or whatever – but the only thing theism adds, according to you, is a self-interest motive to do it.

    Note your assumption, once again, that you use your socialist concept of “morality’ as if it is a common definition (I couldn’t find it in any dictionary – you haven’t even responded to that) and as if it has some kind of de facto standing as “what morality is about”. You constantly argue from your definitional fiat when that definition, and that fiat, is the very thing I’m pointing out that you have no basis for assuming in the first place.

    That’s because most people value not only their own welfare but the welfare of others. That may seem irrational to you, but it’s not irrational to most people. Most people want to live in a society where people take care of other people, so they do their bit.

    I never said otherwise, Dr. Liddle. What I said is that you have no basis by which to assert that such valuing “is” what morality is necessarily about. You can value the welfare of others all you want; that doesn’t make it the necessary basis of morality.

    Now, let’s look at the trouble you go to in order to bury a simple answer you dislike in response to my question:

    Do you think a lot of religious people believe that “morality” is about serving the will of god, whether or not it makes “other people” happy?

    The answer, of course, is yes. A lot of people will fly planes into buildings full of innocent people, and blow themselves and others up, and kill infidels, and do all sorts of things that hurt and harm others because the consider it the will of God, and they consider morality (how they ought behave) to be about obeying the will of god, regardless of whether or not it hurts others or advances society.

    But, to avoid that simple answer, you have to qualify and contextualize to try and – once again – make it seem like “most people” define morality the same way you do, as if “what most people” feel is a significant defense for your position, which – we will see – it is not. My second question was:

    If so, do you agree that under the atheistic premise of subjective morality, they are as entitled to their definition of what morality is about as you are?

    To which you responded:

    What “atheistic premise of subjective morality”?

    I know of no such premise.

    Can you not understand words, now? Under atheism, morality is considered subjective, not objective (under the actual definition of the word), meaning that morality doesn’t exist outside of the feelings, interpretations and personal biases of the individual. There is no “objective”, independently existent morality that is an absolute standard.

    You’ve agreed that at least some (I’d argue most) people do not consider morality to be defined by “valuing others and treating them well”, but rather to be defined as “serving the will of god”. They will not value others, and treat them badly, if that what they think god wants.

    The question is rather straightforward: if the premise of morality is that it is generated by subjective human feelings and values, then if a person or persons feel like it, and place value on it, then any behavior – including gassing jews and torturing children for pleasure – they are as entitled to call that system of behavior towards others “morality”, and their actions “moral”, as you or anyone else?

    Without any absolute arbiter of what is moral, and what is not, then you must answer yes – if that is what those people “feel” is right, and moral, then it is necessarily as right, and as moral, as your own perspective, regardless of if more people feel like you do than feel like they do.

  559. 559

    Thanks, Proton. I hope you will consider posting at TSZ.

  560. 560

    Dr. Liddle says she is:

    I am using it [objective] in sense 1 b.

    1b states:

    of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind [objective reality] [our reveries … are significantly and repeatedly shaped by our transactions with the objective world — Marvin Reznikoff] — compare subjective 3a

    So, Dr Liddle, you are now claiming that morality exists independent of the mind, and is perceptible by all observers, independent of individual thought?

  561. 561

    So I do not think that morality is subjective, under atheism” or anything else.

    So if morality is not subjective (under atheism, in your worldview), what arbits what can be called morality, and what cannot be called morality?

  562. 562

    William:

    Can you not understand words, now? Under atheism, morality is considered subjective, not objective (under the actual definition of the word), meaning that morality doesn’t exist outside of the feelings, interpretations and personal biases of the individual. There is no “objective”, independently existent morality that is an absolute standard.

    Please provide a source for this assertion.

    Nothing you have posted gives me any reason to think that theistic morality is more, or less, “subjective” than “morality under atheism”.

    My point is simply that the underlying principle of morality has been the principles required to maintain a peaceful productive society – the “moral duty” of citizens to their community, penalised if violated.

    You are absolutely right of course that theists have frequently decided that what god wants isn’t what makes for a peaceful productive society – slaughtering enemies, flying planes into towers, whatever.

    But that seems to me to be an argument against theistic morality, not for it. And on the whole, I’d say, the history of the great religions has been to identify God with what is good, rather than good as what some god is interpreted to want.

    Tell me which, in your view is the most “subjective of these two ways of discerning morality:

    Collectively discovering what duties laid on members of a society lead to a peaceful productive society

    Choosing a religion that comes with a set of scriptures that give conflicting instructions on how to behave, including genocide and the taking of the wives of your enemy into sexual slavery?

    I understand that the latter is not your choice – but you have said yourself, William, that you may a personal choice as to what to believe. Do you honestly think that is not more “subjective” than figuring out collectively what works?

    Is it not you who are failing “to understand words”?

    Anyway, this thread is going nowhere. I will be at TSZ if you want to continue. Axel’s ridiculous post has made me unaccountably cross.

  563. 563

    So, Dr Liddle, you are now claiming that morality exists independent of the mind, and is perceptible by all observers, independent of individual thought?

    Yes, I think that all observers can note, independently of each other, that reciprocal altruism is the best basis for a society (leads to the best outcomes for all) and so laws and moral principles that promote reciprocal altruism are those that will most likely lead to fair societies.

    It’s obviously a woollier and less objective conclusion than the conclusion that “the sky is blue”, but I’d say there is nonetheless remarkable agreement across societies.

    Where people differ much more markedly is on who counts as “other” and in what best benefits them.

    But the principle of altruism (plus justice-with-mercy for cheaters) seems a near-universal basis for morality across human society, and can even be demonstrated, by experiment, to work.