Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Soul. Min, Consciousness

 photo getting_smartere.jpg




Atheists sometimes seem to think that if they can ask questions of Christian doctrines that you can't answer them even though you give answers,  and of course they also seem to think that if there are unanswered questions then the idea or position is trashed. I saw this tendency in the discussion in relation to Eric Sontac's piece on the soul on Secular Outpost (SOP).[1] Eric himself doesn't display these tendencies but others did. One poster named Michael exhibited this attitude: 

Michael  Joe Hinman Do you have any answers to the questions? If the soul is the life force (this does seem to be its original meaning held in Christian thought) that at least explains the resurrection idea. The soul (life) ends, but then comes again.
Though I respect him as a thinker Keith parsons asks:


Joe,
Exactly. Once you posit souls, you open the door to a host of imponderables that can only have dogmatic but not principled answers. That is one of the things that gives such posits their obscurantist power. Do animals have souls? Bonobos? Cats? Lizards? Oysters? Where do you put the golden spike and say that here you have souls, but below this line it is only neurons?

Let's take a brief look at the soul in Bible. There is no universality   to the usage. The same words used for soul i n OT (Nephesh) is also used to mean life, life force, or living creature, When animals are called living creatures the same word is used and it is used of the human soul, The word for /spirit is Rawuch the two can be used interchangeably, Spirit can be used or consciousness or life force.
“Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures [soul/nephesh], and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” God created the great sea monsters and every living creature  [soul/nephesh]that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:20–21) see also Gen 1:24,30, “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature  [soul/nephesh] that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.” (Genesis 9:9–10)

This does not mean that animals have souls equivalent to a human, we might distinguish between life and soul and thus it's merely saying animals are alive but men are living souls. The Bible Distinguishes between man and animals on the grounds that humans can reason and animals do not.
“But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed,” (2 Peter 2:12) and aslo “But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.” (Jude 10). We  Know this is not exactly true. Animals do a fair amount o reasoning at a childish level and they have the same emotions we do,especially dogs. Moreover, as I grow older I am less and less impressed with the reasoning of a lot of humans,

Rather than saying that animals are stupid an humans are smart I thinks it's saying humans are made in the image of God. Not to say animals are not precious to God but humans do have a dimension animals do not. I think it;s talking about moral reasoning, the examples of men being like unreasoning animals (above--2 Peter and Jude) are about men who do not use morel reasoning. We see nothing about animals need to obey the Gospel and get saved, Animals are not morally guilty they do what nature tells them,They don't do moral reasoning,So they are not sinners, nor are they saved.

We can equate soul with consciousness. Soul, spirit, life force, consciousness these all have rough equivalency, I think there is a distinction between soul and spirit in a lot passages but I will speak of them as equivolant and interchangeable, New testament terms for spirit and soul both imply mind. Spirit is Penuma meaning breath or wind, but it also means mind, and the rational faculty.[2]and soul is psyche, from which derive our word psyche or physiological that refers to mind. We could say soul is life and spirit is consciousness but we can easily find interchangeable uses. Moreover, if consciousness is what makes us who we are and what lives on after death then  consciousness can be regarded as life too. The added dimension is the moral dimension, that that sort reasoning animals don;t have, but we could think of it as lesser degree of consciousness.

There are a couple of passages that imply that it all levels out. Men are essentially beasts a d animals have some kind of animal spirit even they may not live after death:


“I said in my heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that THEY THEMSELVES ARE BEASTS. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, THEY HAVE ALL ONE BREATH; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the SPIRIT OF THE BEAST that goeth downward to the earth?” [Ecclesiastes 3:18-21].
In Job 12:7-10 we read:

“Even birds and animals have much they could teach you; ask the creatures of the earth and sea for their wisdom. ALL OF THEM KNOW THAT YAHWEH’S HAND MADE THEM. In His hand are the SOULS of all His creatures and the breath of all humanity.”

now we re ready to look at atheist questions. On SOP there is an atheist named Joe. They designate me with my first and last name. So Atheist Joe asks



  • What grants a souls a it's properties, it's 'character'? Do souls have a meta-soul? Is reincarnation true? Certainly Abrahamic religions wouldn't agree with that.
    I think the main problem with this line of thinking is that it has no useful application in the real world, unlike neuroscience and cognitive psychology, which are working to improve conditions for those with brain injuries or mental deficiencies.
The question of reincarnation will have to wait for another tine, That is not going to make or break belief in the soul. Personally I see no evidence of it, As or what gives the soul its properties, if we equate the soul with consciousness we can ask what gives consciousnesses it;s properties. I am not convinced that modern science understands what consciousness is, Yet I think a valid theory and serviceable one is that it;s an emergent property that is produced by a level of complexity of brain function,Note this does not mean that it;s reducible to brain function,[3]

At this point in the discussion Doctor Parsons (U.Houston) made an actual argument against the concept of the soul; "The problem with saying "a soul did it," is that, like saying "God did it," we have an immediate end to inquiry. We just hit a brick wall. In principle, no deeper understanding is possible." Even though I have great respect for Dr. Parsons I do not think much of this argument, Like the "God did it" refrain it employs it asserts a reality contrary to historical development of the concept. Historically belief in the soul has not meant an end to inquiry but the beginning.The soul probably began with speculation about animism rooted in observations of the wind, But by the end of the New Testament era we have the dawning of a sophisticated rudimentary notion if the modern self and the sense of consciousness that fed the trinitarian doctrine and furnished the foundation of modern selfhood beginning with St. Augustine. [4] If anything has meant the end of inquiry it's modern reductionism that tries to write off consciousness as a side effect o brain chemistry.

Parson's goes on:

Saying that a soul thinks or feels or whatever is like Moliere's "explanation" of the power of opium to cause sleep--because it has a "dormative potency." In other words, you make a posit and simply attribute to it an occult potentiality to accomplish whatever effects you want. If asked how the putative entity supposedly achieves those effects, the answer, effectively, is "Shut up." Again, and on the contrary, when asked for a scientific causal account, we can very often provide layers and layers of detailed, specific, understandable explanations.
Yet if we understand soul/spirit as the basis of consciousness we can account for it as we do consciousness but the modern materialist view tries to lose the phenomena and explain it away, Consciousness understood as a basic property if nature explains the emergent property. See my essays on brain/mind. [5] 

How does a soul achieve a physical effect? Please spell out the process. For instance when my soul tells my finger to move, how does it bring this about? What is the process? Have you solved the interaction problem? Please give me the details. Inquiring minds want to know.
But that is just the point, modernistic reductionist views that seek to lose the phenomena but an end to inquiry with permanent all-encompassing answers like chalking it all up to brain chemistry. That means losing the phenomena of the hard problem and robotizing humanity,Understanding the soul is a means of preserving humanity and continuing investigation,. But the fact that we can;t produce a a scientific answer thiat subjects all questioning to onem odel is proof that the answers are more complex tahn reductionis alllows for. (see my essey i n fn 5).



Sources

[1] Eric Sotnak, "Consciousness and Souls," Secular Outpost, Nov 28, 2016, blog URL:
all the quotes atheists come from the comment section of this piece,

[2] Edward F. Kelley and Emily Williams Kelley, et al, Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century. Boulder, New York, Toronto: Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Inc, 2007/2010, 37. 38

[3] David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a theory. England, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. 3-5.on line version: http://www.scribd.com/doc/16574382/David-Chalmers-The-Conscious-Mind-Philosophy Scribd, David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Theory of Conscious Experience, webstie Department of Philosophy, University of California at Santa Cruz, July 22 1995, visited 3/1/11 on line page numbers apply.

[4] Charles Taylor, Sources of The Self: The Making of The Modern Identity, Cambridge: Harvard University Press (March 1, 1992) 1-25, 

for Augustine, see Ibid, 93, 127-143

[5] Joseph Hinman, "Mind is notreduceablev to Brain part 1" Metacrock's Blog, 

MAY 05, 2014 URL:


part 2



19 comments:

Eric Sotnak said...

"We can equate soul with consciousness."

Can we? Should we? My original post you referred to asked the question of how unconsciousness is possible if the soul explains consciousness. Here you propose to identify the soul with consciousness. Therefore, my question to you is this: When a person is unconscious, does that mean they are soulless? How is that possible? And if the soul is consciousness and the soul exists while a person is unconscious, then consciousness exists while the person is unconscious, and we are no longer making sense.

Joe Hinman said...

Can we? Should we? My original post you referred to asked the question of how unconsciousness is possible if the soul explains consciousness. Here you propose to identify the soul with consciousness. Therefore, my question to you is this: When a person is unconscious, does that mean they are soulless? How is that possible? And if the soul is consciousness and the soul exists while a person is unconscious, then consciousness exists while the person is unconscious, and we are no longer making sense.

there are levels of consciousnesses. unconsciousness is one of them. I was in a coma for two months, part of feb to April 2015. I remember almost waking up one tie in that stretch, But I had a whole elaborate life going on in that doma and I thought I was really living life. now in retrospect they were just ridiculous dreams they had the illogic of dreams, but I really thought i was living life. I had dear freimds who dont exist in that time. The waking process was a blurring whereI recall real events in the false setting and the fictius people in the rel waking perid.

This experience conveniences me that consciousness is ground up and goes all the way down, so unconsciousness is just another levekl of consciousness.

Joe Hinman said...

here is a source, a shrink (Jayne Gackenback)who studies sleep and consciousnesses talks about pure consciousness which she equates with mystical experience, or at least the latter as an aspect of the former. What comes out of it all is a sense that there are levels of consciousness and different levels to mystical consciousness.

here

JBsptfn said...

Joe, when you talked about how there really isn't any evidence for reincarnation, I am reminded of an interview that paranormal researcher Guy Lyon Playfair did with Jime on his Subversive Thinking blog five years ago:

Archive.org: Subversive Thinking-Interview with Guy Lyon Playfair

He was asked (in question 13) about survival of consciousness and reincarnation. He believes that consciousness survives, but he doesn't really believe in reincarnation.

Eric Sotnak said...

What caused you to be in a coma? Was the coma the result of physical or spiritual causes? Physicalists will say that the reason there are degrees of consciousness is exactly that there are degrees of activity in the relevant parts of the brain. Now you say that there are degrees of consciousness, but you also say that we should identify the soul with consciousness. So it seems to follow that there are degrees of soul. Again, I suggest we are no longer making sense here.

Joe Hinman said...

JB I meant Biblical evidence for reincor nation

Joe Hinman said...

Eric Sotnak said...
What caused you to be in a coma? Was the coma the result of physical or spiritual causes? Physicalists will say that the reason there are degrees of consciousness is exactly that there are degrees of activity in the relevant parts of the brain. Now you say that there are degrees of consciousness, but you also say that we should identify the soul with consciousness. So it seems to follow that there are degrees of soul. Again, I suggest we are no longer making sense here.

One need not deny physical causes to believe in the spirit. This is especially if one beloved the spirit is mind..We no that mind supervenes upon the physical brain.The brain could be a means of accessing consciousness.Like when your monitor goes out. The computer might still be running but you can't see to access the program.

Eric Sotnak said...

"The brain could be a means of accessing consciousness."

Who or what does the accessing? Since you suggest that consciousness = soul, you are here saying the brain could be a means of accessing the soul? So when you were in a coma, your brain wasn't accessing your soul?

"The computer might still be running but you can't see to access the program." So in this metaphor, YOU are not the computer program that is running. So then what are you, and what is the program? Which is conscious (in the metaphor) you or the computer (or the computer program)?

Joe Hinman said...

it's still you but it implies we have levels of consciousness and our waking level, is not fully in control. I am also saying full consciousness is a black box.

JBsptfn said...

Joe: JB I meant Biblical evidence for reincarnation

I know. I was just sharing what a psychical researcher had to say about the subject.

Eric Sotnak said...

In that link to the Guy Lyon interview: "there is abundant evidence that 'psychic surgeons' have been seen to do things that await explanation."

Uh... No. Psychic surgery has never been shown to be anything but slight of hand trickery for the purpose of exploiting the fears of sick people and defrauding them.

Eric Sotnak said...

"it's still you but it implies we have levels of consciousness and our waking level, is not fully in control."

What is still you? What is the "you" and what is the "it"? Again, you suggested that we can identify the soul with consciousness. Here you say we have levels of consciousness. By substitution, we therefore have levels of soul?

JBsptfn said...

Eric S. Uh... No. Psychic surgery has never been shown to be anything but slight of hand trickery for the purpose of exploiting the fears of sick people and defrauding them.

Guy also went on to say that there are many frauds (especially in the Phillipines). Also, who told you that all psychic surgeons are frauds?

Joe Hinman said...

What is still you? What is the "you" and what is the "it"? Again, you suggested that we can identify the soul with consciousness. Here you say we have levels of consciousness. By substitution, we therefore have levels of soul?

two different uses of
'soul.' 1.the overall direction of one; life in relation to God, in which case the thing that lives on, consciousness, would be part. or 2.used as synonym for spirit,in which case it is the thing living on. thinking of the latter usage there are levels of consciousness, they are all part of us, the same consciousness but there's a waking awareness of self and an unconscious level, The waking awareness can be fine tuned,Some people are more self aware than others. Asking which is the real you is like asking if your body is more you than your mind. The whole thing makes up you, your body, soul in sense 1 and spirit (soul 2)

Joe Hinman said...

Guy Lyon has nothing to do with ne, tha is JB;s thing, With all due respect to JB I don't believe psychic surgery or psychic anything else for that matter, I can buy some basic esp thing but you start trying to organize it and ask money I have to be skeptical.

tearfang said...

//I thinks it's saying humans are made in the image of God. Not to say animals are not precious to God but humans do have a dimension animals do not. I think it;s talking about moral reasoning//

How can the being made in the 'image of God' be about moral reasoning when that is said of mankind before we ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

Eric Sotnak said...

"who told you that all psychic surgeons are frauds?"

There is zero credible evidence that there are any non-fraudulent cases, and conclusive evidence that there are fraudulent cases. There is therefore a reasonable presumption in favor of all claims being fraudulent unless shown otherwise.

Joe Hinman said...

How can the being made in the 'image of God' be about moral reasoning when that is said of mankind before we ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

the capacity for moral reasoning is based upon the ability to love I didn't mean only the moral, the imago dei contains the range of consciousness and personal awareness, Yes dogs love but moral motions are based upon love are more complex

JBsptfn said...

ERIC: There is zero credible evidence that there are any non-fraudulent cases, and conclusive evidence that there are fraudulent cases. There is therefore a reasonable presumption in favor of all claims being fraudulent unless shown otherwise.

I really don't have an opinion either way (I forgot that he talked about that) about psychic surgery, but I don't usually buy it when an atheist says that there isn't any credible evidence for something that is paranormal. In my experience, they are usually using flawed sources of info (RationalWiki, Skepdic, CSICOP) that are biased.