What is the soul?


But isn’t mathematics even more fundamental?

So plants would have either to be conscious or not alive by your definition.

I don’t think that follows…if science can’t detect multiverses, does that mean they do not exist?

That would be contradictory to my claims if I believed that the soul has complete control over the body. As far as I know it could be 0% control, or not.

Fair enough as far as theorys of consciousness go, but it is just as infalsifiable as any of them.

But dualism never tried to explain those things, so how could it even fail? It is like saying that DNA fails to explain plasma physics.

But we have no evidence of the dragon in the garage, but we do know for a fact that subjective experience exists and that completely attributing it to physical processes generates some weird paradoxes. So it is not like we have no evidence, it is just that it is not conclusive proof.

But consciousness always bites when you come near, in fact, you experience it everyday. I would agree with your arguments if what I was saying was something like “when you die, you become a ghost and start haunting people by moving objects in their house”, because that is something that we don’t see happening and that we could measure if it did happen. But that is not what I’m saying.

Well, I’m agnostic about whether the soul exists before birth or not, so a view in which it is “forged” by the processes in the brain into a separate layer of existence is indeed consistent with my view. But I don’t see how that is not dualism (that separate medium would be the second substance).

Maybe it would not, but it is at least conceivable.

I don’t see why. If my brain was identical and attached to my original soul, I wouldn’t really notice any difference.

I guess we agree on that.

(Mitchell W McKain) #42

Not in a way that is reductionist, however. Mathematics is used to describe things on all scales, both the parts and the union into a greater whole. Indeed it is my argument that we have the sciences of physics, chemistry and biology because new mathematics and processes emerge.

I wasn’t stating a general principle or a proof, but only my position on the question of philosophical zombies.

But follow the discussion backward. I wasn’t talking about your claims, I was talking about the idea of a nonphysical puppet master (in which control is the whole point). We have since realized our viewpoints are closer than we thought.

I am not so sure about that. Anything to do with the spiritual is unfalsifiable, to be sure. But I have already explained that I don’t buy into your idea that the subjective experience is not scientifically detectable.

Boy! You really missed the point of what I was saying. My point is simply that there is nothing which dualism can explain which monism cannot explain better. This is because monism also has to explain the dualism. What I gave were examples. And here is another: explaining things with the old alchemical theory that world is composed of the elements of fire, water, air, and earth, is inferior to the more monistic scientific view because it can explain the difference between fire, water, air and earth – how they are different and why they are different.

Thus you give me your dualism and I will top you with a monism that explains everything your dualism explains PLUS explaining the effective dualism also.

Exactly! Which is why consciousness as non-physical thing doesn’t work.

But like I said the only difference between monism and dualism is that monism also explains the duality. Thus it is only a dualism if I don’t have an explanation of the difference between two in terms of a unifying reality. I haven’t given that yet in our discussion here but have elsewhere in this forum.

It is based on the ultimate unifying monism in physical science, energy. Thus I would call it pre-energy to distinguish it from physical energy, or you could call it the pure potentiality of being itself. Then I explain the difference between the physical forms of this pre-energy and the spiritual forms of this pre-energy. The physical forms are all part of a single mathematical-geometric space-time structure which we call the physical universe and the natural laws which govern everything in it. The spiritual or non-physical forms of this pre-energy are not a part of this structure.

Not to me. Conceivable in a fantasy perhaps. But not conceivable in the context of my studies of physics and my experiences of life.

You seem of have entirely missed the point I was making that I don’t believe it is possible to make something identical without going through the identical process by which the first was created. The general principle here is that the ends are not independent of the means. But if you did go through the same process then what you are really talking about is two people growing up in parallel identical worlds and just happening to make exactly all the same decisions in their lives – two people who are the same and no unconscious zombie imitation anywhere.

(Albert Leo) #43

Perhaps this says more about the Egyptian’s preservation technology than what they valued. Brain tissue deteriorates very readily but the gut, if thoroughly washed and salted, and then kept dry, lasts for centuries. Strong emotions arise from brain activity but are most readily felt in the heart. Egyptians probably would have preserved the heart if they had the technology to do so.
Al Leo

(Albert Leo) #44

Perhaps most of these brain/mind/soul problems become less formidable if we give proper attention to the power of organization. With proper operating systems and programming [organization], and crystalline silicon arranged [organized] as “chips”, modern computers are very close to behaving intelligently. But to really achieve artificial intelligence, (AI) they must first be trained on previously acquired data; i.e. they must be given experience.

Perhaps the same principles would apply to the simile posed above: If I were vaporized, could my consciousness be restored by recreating the exact same pattern of atoms in my brain? In principle, probably. But that pattern was established over a period of 90+ years of experiences, and that organization of neural connections is unknown, except by God. So God could recreate my consciousness, my personality, after I had been vaporized. But humans could not.
Al Leo

(George Brooks) #45


Sometimes a mind is more creative than the world can support with actual reality.

  1. How would you ever prove your thesis, AL? The Egyptians wrote about the worthlessness of the Brain. Is it mere coincidence that the brain is also pretty hard to dry out or to preserve in some other way? Or is it really? Couldn’t they have just put a brain in a bowl, pack it with salt and nitron, and cover it?

  2. As for the heart… here’s a nice discussion of the whole “shebang” !:

“Probably the most interesting aspect of the ancient Egyptian’s concept of the heart is that their ancient beliefs remain with us today, not as science, but within the very fiber of our emotions, our poetry and our song lyrics. When we refer to our hearts in regard to love, or any other emotion, we are invoking a living memory of the ancient Egyptian belief system.”

The Purpose of the Heart
"The Egyptians believed that the heart, rather than the brain, was the source of human wisdom, as well as emotions, memory, the soul and the personality itself. Notions of physiology and disease were all connected in concept to the heart, and it was through the heart that God spoke, giving ancient Egyptians knowledge of God and God’s will."

“For this reason it was considered the most important of the body’s organs. However, despite the ancient Egyptian’s seemingly advanced medical and surgical knowledge, the heart’s role in blood circulation was not precisely understood. It was felt that from the heart, channels (metu) linked all parts of the body together. These channels delivered not only blood, but also air, tears, saliva, mucus, sperm, nutriment and even bodily waste.”

The Brain - A Side Story
"In fact, the only real function of the brain was thought to be to pass mucus to the nose [or an alternate source of some of the body’s stickiest fluids], so it was one of the organs that were discarded during mummification."

“Probably to some extent, this concept of channels may have had some symbolism with the Nile. Ancient Egyptians were thought to be in good health if the metu were clear and without blockage. Disease was caused when a channel became blocked, much like an irrigation canal cannot deliver water if it is blocked.”

“In the final judgment portrayed by the Book of the Dead, the heart of the deceased was shown being weighed against the feather of Ma’at, a symbol of universal truth, harmony and balance. Anubis was sometimes shown adjusting the balance of the scales slightly in favor of the deceased, to ensure [its arrival] into the underworld. The heart was thought to be given back to the deceased in the afterlife.” [If the heart failed the test, the heart was eaten by the multi-form crocodile demon, called Ammit, consuming all of your thoughts, your memories, and your being!]

“For this reason, the heart was one of the only organs not removed from the body during mummification. Of course there was concern that the heart might testify against the deceased, so in order to prevent this, a heart scarab was often wrapped within the bandages. The inscription on the scarab would most likely consist of Chapter 30 from the Book of the Dead”:

 'O my heart which I had upon earth, do not rise up against me as
  a witness in the presence of the lord of things; do not speak
  against me concerning what I have done, do not bring up anything
  against me in the presence of the great god of the west...'

“The heart amulets began taking the form of a vase with lug handles, perhaps symbolic of blood vessels, from the New Kingdom onward. Chapter 29b of the Book of the Dead states that these should be made of seheret stone (cornelian), but they were often made from other materials.”

“So today, when we confront our lovers, we speak from the heart, and when we break up, it is our heart that is broken, in only another of many memories of our ancient Egyptian roots.”


(Albert Leo) #46

George, I joined the Biologos Forum to become better educated on the beliefs of evangelical Christians. In this I have succeeded, at least to a limited extent. But as a bonus I have greatly increased my knowledge of ANE civilizations, thanks largely to you. I stand corrected, and I accept that ancient Egyptians had little respect for brain function. That seems to be currently the case with some of this country’s leaders, who seem to direct their actions by ‘gut feeling’ rather than by reasoned deliberation.
God Bless,
Al Leo

(George Brooks) #47


Shucks, Leo. You have been my soul-companion in this earnest pursuit of ours… I’ve always appreciated your patient ways and have frequently been lifted up by your kind words. I feel I have not done a very good job of emulating your demeanor … but I will always be grateful to the example you have provided me and those who have joined us in the hurly-burly of these exercises!

God’s love to you, Leo, Always!

Emoji Evolution

. . :stars: . . . :stars: . . . :stars:. . :stars: . . . :stars: . . :stars: . . . < Big Bang!
:microbe: . . . . . . Microbe
:octopus:. . . . . . .Invertebrate
:shark:. . . . . . .Boneless Fish
:fish: . . . . . . Fish
:frog: . . . . . . Tetrapods / Amphibeans
:lizard: . . . . . . Reptile (Lizard)
:sauropod: … . . . . Giant Reptile
:t_rex: . . . . . . .Large Raptor
. . . . . . . .:comet:. . . . . . . . . . . . < Dino-Killing Asteroid!
:eagle: . . :koala: . . :bear: . . . . :unicorn:… < Small Raptor / Marsupial / Placental / Still looking for it…
:parrot:. …:kangaroo: . .:monkey: . . . . . . . . . < Talking Birds / Advanced Marsupial / Primates
:peacock:. . . . . . . :monkey_face: . . . . . . . . . . < Birds of the Divine / Advanced Primates
. . . . . . . . . . :gorilla::gorilla: . . . . . <Great Apes
. . . . . . . . . . :bearded_person:. :bearded_person:. . . . . . . < Hominids
. . . . . . . . . . :woman_with_headscarf: . . . . . . . . . . < Civilizer of Hominids
. . . . . . . . . . :man_farmer: . . . . . . . . . . < After Eden
. . . . . . . . . . :mage: . . . . . . . . . . < Magus, Early Man of God
. . . . . . . . . . :innocent: . . .:innocent: . . . . .< Saints & Prophets
. . . . . . . . . . . :revolving_hearts: . . . . . . . . . < Eternal Love
. . . . . . . . . . .:genie:. . . . . . . . . . < God


Then we get the duplication problem. What if God created that new exact copy of you without destroying the previous one?

(George Brooks) #49

That’s how I would do it … :smiley: But I wouldn’t call that a Problem!

(Mark D.) #50

I see you have God evolving last. I think I would have placed Him after hominids but before civilized hominids.

(George Brooks) #51


Ha! Well, God’s emoji is last because he has the last word!

The progression is labeled “Evolution of Emoji” … rather than an evolution of the populations the emjoi represents. For me, @aleo, and maybe countless errors… the “punchline” for Evolution will be when we arrive in an afterlife and finally see what it’s all about !

(Albert Leo) #52

Is that what happened in the movie, “The Boys from Brazil”?
Al Leo

(Mitchell W McKain) #53

Correction: God is both the end AND the beginning. :smiley:


The philosophical problem is that if you conced that in the first case, restoring the pattern of your atoms would restore “you”, then you would have to concede that in this second scenario that would also hold true. But what about the original you? Is he not you anymore? If he is, what would make you think that the second you in the scenario where the first one is destroyed is actually “you”?

(George Brooks) #55

@BoltzmannBrain, I’m pretty sure Easterners (especially those in the non-Abrahamic religions don’t even care about the distinctions. For example, Eastern Buddhists frequently comment on the Western fixation on preserving the “you”. They are busily trying to eliminate the “you-ness” of their existence… and don’t have a care over whether or not a divine deity might want to make duplicates of their “you-ness”.


It is not about caring or not, it is about the ontological implications of that.

(George Brooks) #57


You sound like someone who thinks giving birth to twins would rend the Cosmos asunder.

Whatever ontological implications there may be … there’s no resolving it from this side of the Holy Transom!