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Atheist Meme of the Day: There’s No Evidence for the Soul

Scarlet letter Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day, from my Facebook page. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

There is not one scrap of good, rigorously gathered and tested evidence suggesting that consciousness comes from an immaterial soul. And there is a large and growing body of evidence strongly suggests that, whatever consciousness is, it’s a physical process of the brain. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Comments

  1. vel says

    excellent as always. I’ve recently had one Christian claim that souls were “you” but had none of the characteristics that made a person an individual. It didn’t need the brain or the experiences, it just needed a body for some mysterious reason. This was to explain how brain damage can change a person. Sounds rather like a parasite to me.

  2. DSimon says

    Vel, I guess they meant that the soul was just the continuity of consciousness?
    I guess I don’t see the appeal. I wouldn’t really care for my consciousness continuing without my experiences or personality or any of the other things we know are closely tied to brain function; it wouldn’t be “me” anymore if it were just my consciousness alone.

  3. says

    On the question of souls I have to ask where they are, what characteristics to they have, etc. How does the body “pay” for having a soul and what purpose does it serve. We can’t detect them in any way so what makes so many people think they exists? It must be comfort in the idea of continuing to exist beyond physical death but as you mentioned a few weeks ago that isn’t such a comfort after all.

  4. says

    I copied the above meme to the BBC Ethics and Religion message board this morning==> http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbreligion/F2213235?thread=7242091
    It has now been reported to the site moderators. I copy and pasted the italicised text and added a link to this page. there was nothing in the way of additional or inflammatory comments.
    This may just be me being pissed off that someone reports things that they don’t agree with but is there anything in the original text above that could be construed as an attack on a person’s beliefs? Everything you have written seems reasoned and justified. There is no direct attack on the beliefs of others, no defamation, not even an insult. It is simply a statement of fact.
    Why would believers seek to censor such things? I do not understand it. Are they that frightened?

  5. says

    “Sounds rather like a parasite to me”
    This parallels an idea that I’ve been toying with lately: Let’s say there are souls, but they’re not us.
    Instead, your soul is a parasitic life-form that attaches itself to you (the body). It fosters a feeling of identity, so you won’t try to force it out.
    It then leeches off of you for your entire life, possibly manipulating your actions for its own amusement. When you finally die, it detaches and looks for another host.
    There’s just as much evidence for this idea as there is for the traditional view.

  6. DSimon says

    Lukas, that seems like it would be a really good scenario for an SF story. Here’s the big moral conundrum: who is the person, if both parts are necessary for there to be a particular identity? Is it the host, or the parasite?
    Or, what if a parasite decided that what it was doing was wrong. However, if it leaves, the body it inhabits will no longer have an independent identity. What should it do?

  7. DSimon says

    Quinapalus, the Trill were still potentially distinct from their hosts. Their identities merged while they were linked, sure, but after a split, they became separate people once again. The hypothetical “soul parasite”, on the other hand, would take the host’s identity away completely upon leaving.
    (Oh ye hairy singularities, I’m correcting someone about Star Trek philosophy on the Internet. I’ve officially crossed the 100% geek line. I knew this day would someday come, and now that it has, I have no choice but to embrace it wholeheartedly.)

  8. Quinapalus says

    Hmm, the way I remember it, without a symbiont, a Trill host dies rapidly. But I never really watched DS9 and I understand they did some tweaking.

  9. Quinapalus says

    Kahlesste kaase, I haven’t spoken geek in so long I’m forgetting all the words.
    “Retconning.” I mean to say that the DS9 writers did some retconning.

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