Conservative Colloquium

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Brain Neuroscience and Philosophy Suggest Existence of Soul

Posted by Tony Listi on August 2, 2012

(This borrows arguments and facts from Dinesh D’Souza’s book Life After Death.)

Neuroscientists study the physical brain, but they also want to understand the non-physical mind. Yet thoughts cannot be collected, weighed, measured, sniffed, or even observed, at least not directly and clearly. They try to reduce the mind to merely physical cause-and-effect relationships. But is it even possible to do so?

Neuroscience has shown that brain states and mental experiences are correlated and that in many cases that certain mental states are dependent on certain brain states, but it HAS NOT shown that brain states cause mental states.

The famous American philosopher William James correctly thought of the brain not as a causal device but as a gateway, receiver, or transmission vehicle for the mind.

As an analogy, consider a radio and music. If the radio breaks and one can’t hear the music anymore, does that prove that the radio causes the music? Of course not. The music/radio waves are actually distinct from and have an independent existence from the physical radio itself. The radio merely channels and manifests the music/radio waves that already exist all around us.

Similarly, music CDs require CD players, but the players don’t cause the music. Software requires hardware, but the hardware doesn’t cause the software’s programs. A fine paintbrush is needed to paint a fine painting, but the paintbrush doesn’t cause the painting but the artist using the paintbrush.

The question materialist atheists have to answer is this: “How do material objects, such as neurons with their associated apparatus of axons and dendrites, cause immaterial outcomes such as sensations, emotions, and ideas?… How can we be confident that the brain is a manufacturing plant for the mind and not merely a gateway or transmission belt?”

If minds are shadows/epiphenomenons that don’t do anything, why do we have minds? It is unlikely evolution would provide mental functions if they were irrelevant.

And if the mind is just an illusion with no existence, then the very thought, idea, and truth of “the mind is just an illusion with no existence” doesn’t exist either. It’s self-contradictory.

The notion that the mind is the brain (Daniel Dennett) doesn’t work either. Mental states are private, known only to the person; brains are not private and can be known by an outside observer. Mental states cannot be spatially located; brain states can. Mental states are about something and intentionally refer to something external to themselves; this is not the case with brain states. A person is infallible concerning their mental state, about their own thoughts; a person cannot be infallible concerning their brain state. A person cannot be mistaken about what they themselves experience mentally; a person can be mistaken about their own brain state, which a neuroscientist may know more about through technology and observation. Moreover, if two different people have the same mental state, that does NOT mean they have the same brain state. Human brains are wired differently from individual to individual.

The mind is not what it makes a person do either. One can remove actions or cease to act and the mental experience still be there. Mental experiences can exist apart from any behavior and perhaps from any physical manifestation.

Philosophers like Thomas Nagel (click here for more info) and Frank Jackson have soundly argued that even a full understanding of brain physiology will never reveal mental states, that mental states can never be reduced to purely physical terms.

The mind is not the output of a computer either. We cannot build computers that do what the mind does and experiences. Of course, the notion of the mind as a computer doesn’t preclude the notion of life after death since one might download and upload the mind. Moreover, a computer merely manipulates symbols; it isn’t really conscious of what it is doing like the human mind. Computers can do syntax but not semantics; they can follow rules but can’t discern meaning. No computer, however complex, will ever be able to think and be conscious.

Neuroscience has only shown its own inherent limitations and blindspots. Science is limited to the study of material things that are objective and publicly observable. The “scientific” argument against the soul (mind/consciousness) collapses because the soul is not material or objective. Neuroscience thus makes life after death a plausible notion, though perhaps not persuasive and credible on its own.

Neuroscience has also shown that mental activity actually reconstitutes and reprograms the neurons in our brain. The mind, the person, the human will, shapes and forms the physical brain.

Physician Jeffrey Schwartz treats OCD patients and developed what he calls “cognitive therapy.” This therapy involves patients learning to refocus their minds away from their compulsions and toward other thoughts and actions. Not only has the therapy been successful in many cases, but it has shown that a person can willfully rewire and bring order to their own previously disordered brains. The mind is controlling the matter, not the other way around!

The placebo and nocebo effects also demonstrate how the mind changes the body, including the brain.

The concept of neuroplasticity is a relatively new term to describe how the mind can change the physical arrangements in the brain. Psychiatrist Norman Doige has employed this concept and a therapy similar to Dr. Schwartz’s to successfully treat a variety of mental disabilities.

If the mind is independent enough to create changes in the body, especially the brain, it seems reasonable to suppose the mind can survive the dissolution of the body, including specifically the brain.

Dr. Schwartz and physicist Henry Stapp are using discoveries in quantum physics to explain these mysterious/miraculous phenomena/treatments. They believe that consciousness operates at the quantum level to create a physical force. They believe the patients can, through trained volition/consciousness, fix and rearrange the position of subatomic particles and thus transform the physical reality within the brain.

Consciousness is perhaps the most perplexing and mysterious subject in science, and yet it is the most obvious and self-evident thing to the ordinary person. Human consciousness has no physical explanation yet we can see its physical consequences in medicine. Consciousness has no good evolutionary explanation either.

Consciousness must exist. If consciousness doesn’t really exist, than we can’t be conscious of the fact that consciousness doesn’t exist. To deny consciousness is self-contradictory.

Philosopher David Chalmers argues we should accept consciousness as an irreducible element of reality, just like matter and energy in physics.

Quantum uncertainty creates rational/scientific room for free will.

“Thus a strict materialism refutes itself for the reason given long ago by Professor Haldane: ‘If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motion of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” -C.S. Lewis, Miracles

If we presume morality, we must presume free will too. And free will is inherently spiritual and supernatural by definition (i.e. not a result of physical cause and effect). Free will and atheistic materialism are incompatible. Thus morality and atheistic materialism are incompatible.


23 Responses to “Brain Neuroscience and Philosophy Suggest Existence of Soul”

  1. Azl said

    This is a classic example of an argument being made by someone who fails to grasp the opponent’s point of view.

    I know you’ve a clever man, so I’m sure you are capable of figuring things out for yourself – so I will point out what the opposing view is, and leave it to you to piece together how none of the arguments you make hold water to people who don’t already agree with you.

    The pre-supposition that this entire examination is based upon, is that there exists non-physical aspects to human cognition. To wit, either the “mind” or the sensations themselves are separate and distinct from the observable, physical processes we can observe.

    The Determinist makes no such supposition, as there is no scientific evidence for it.

    As such, questions like “how does matter cause immaterial effects” are ill-conceived; they assume what they seek to prove. To the Determinist, there are no immaterial effects to be explained, unless you can prove their existence.

    Moreover, with the complex [and not precisely understood, to any degree] correlation between observable nueral activity and self-reported experiences, the current best scientific explanation is that they are, in fact, causally linked.

    A real challenge to that position would have to present evidence that either they cannot be causally linked, or that there is a better explanation – “better,” in this context, meaning, “more strongly supported be evidence.”

    • Tony Listi said

      “No immaterial effects to be explained”? If that’s where they want to stand their ground, on the inhumane denial of free will and personhood, on the absurdly self-delusional and amoral, then I’m happy to let them stay there and alienate the average person. Free will and personhood are so intimately and obviously true that one has to severely delude oneself into thinking one is merely another cog in the material universe (and inconsistently/hypocritically in practice) rather than a person with free choice.

      Morover, this blog post provides evidence that brain states do not cause mental states by providing evidence of mental states causing brain states (cognitive therapy, placebo/nocebo).

      So all things considered, the evidence of fundamental personal experience and of science weigh heavily against materialism/determinism.

      • Azl said

        If you want to stand on “we hold these truths to be self-evident” then thats fine, but its hardly a counter to the Determinist view.

        more to the point, the evidence of science does NOT weigh against materialism – how could it? science is a material process.
        to be clear – your claim that there is evidence of mental states causing brain states is rejected because it pre-supposes there is such a distinction. The scientist would demand first a definition of both, and then evidence to support each.

      • Tony Listi said

        Alex, it is a counter to the Determinist view. Why? Because without an immaterial aspect to personhood as a given, there is no such thing as argument, counter-argument, science, philosophy, different views, and truth! Do you not understand that determinism is self-defeating, contradictory, and self-referentially incoherent?

        “I’m a Determinist because of the science. I’m right and you’re wrong!”
        Actually no, to be a consistent Determinist, one has to be believe there is no “I” or “you,” just some blobs of matter that are part of the one big Blob of matter. One also has to believe that there is no science (pursuit and discovery of truth/knowledge), just some blobs of matter forced to act certain ways out of physical necessity without any involvement of reason grasping truth.

        Does the Determinist have the true view or is he just determined to have that Determinist view regardless of the truth? Ya see what I’m getting at? I’m merely recycling and re-packaging CS Lewis’ logic about brains, atomic motion, and truth.

      • Tony Listi said

        Materialist phenomena can testify to immaterial phenomena. It’s called human beings speaking about their mental states. Happens all the time. That’s how we can know that science weighs against materialism.
        When people speak, are they like ventriloquist dummies for nature/matter? Or is the Person making himself or herself known?

        Has science abolished personhood? No. Science, especially the psychological sciences, wouldn’t be able to function without personhood and the testimony of the person being a reality.

      • Azl said

        who’s this alex person?

        and yes, you are just re-packaging CS Lewis’s argument, which is why your reasoning contains the same flaws

        our experiences as an individual need not be immaterial to be explained. that’s the silver bullet.

        if you want to suggest that without an immateral personhood, we couldnt explain our own experiences, you assume what you seek to prove. Yes, we need to make basic philosophical assumptions in order to reason at all [we exist, our senses work the way we think they do, we’re not in the matrix, etc] BUT there is no requirement that this basic assumption include anything *immateral*.

        the crux of the argument boils down to lack of definition – people say “how can you explain sentience?” and for a moment, it seems to make sense that surely, there must be something else to account for this.

        but the scientist demands clear definition first – what are you referring to when you say “sentience”? if you mean our ability to see, remember, think, recognize ourselves, or have any kind of experiences, then those are processes that can be examined. we can look at how your eyes and senses work, examine other animals who can or cant recognize themselves, explore the brains ability to learn, experience, and forget. none of those phenomena demands a supernatural component. Some of them might be more easily explained with one, but that doesnt mean it MUST be so. after all, everything could be easily explained with magic, but we generally consider belief in magic to be childish.

        so when you say “mental state” to mean something immaterial, you are already assuming your conclusion, not proving it. to prove it, you would have to first show that any such thing as an immaterial mental state exists.

      • Tony Listi said

        “our experiences as an individual need not be immaterial to be explained. that’s the silver bullet. if you want to suggest that without an immateral personhood, we couldnt explain our own experiences, you assume what you seek to prove.”
        My argument doesn’t hinge on whether something can or cannot be explained. I’m saying that people AS PERSONS directly experience and know their own personhood and free will.

        “we need to make basic philosophical assumptions in order to reason at all…BUT there is no requirement that this basic assumption include anything *immateral*.”
        This is just flat wrong. Truth and reason themselves are not reducible to physical/material phenomena. Truth and reason are immaterial. Reason depends on truth, true premises. Free will is also immaterial by definition, as my blog post states.

        “if you mean our ability to see, remember, think, recognize ourselves, or have any kind of experiences”
        No, I mean our ability to MAKE FREE CHOICES. That is the key distinction of human consciousness.

        The key mental states of choosing and reasoning (which is a mental choice) are immaterial; they have no material cause, though their effects are material and can be observed through brain scans and bodily movements.

      • Tony Listi said

        And I’d still like an answer to this key question: Does the Determinist have the true view or is he just determined to have that Determinist view regardless of the truth?

      • Azl said

        yes, you are saying that we experience directly something immaterial. i understand that. what im saying is, such a statement lacks evidence, and moreover lacks the requisite level of definition to even look for evidence.

        “people AS PERSONS directly experience their own personhood!”

        such a statement is ambiguous to the point of meaningless. but thankfully, thats not all you said:

        “No, I mean our ability to MAKE FREE CHOICES.”

        Yes! this is the heart of the matter – the overwhelming necessary conclusion of a determinist viewpoint is that we DONT make free choices.

        so if you want to say that we do, obviously you cannot agree with a materialist viewpoint, thats fine, but you still assume your conclusion.

        to the determinist, free will is an illusion – which does prompt an interesting series of questions, like why should we FEEL like we make free choices if we really dont, and is there any possible evolutionary advantage to such a system – but those arent the questions you’re interested in, i think.

        i think you just reject flat out that free will is an illusion, because you feel like you exercise it, therefore it must be real. the determinist considers other possibilities, since they have no reason to exempt one particular sensation from scientific inquiry.

        after all, your other sensations are wrong all the time – hallucinations, dreams, cognitive dissonance; your perceptions are flawed a huge percentage of the time.

        thats why the determinist calls you inconsistent for realizing [as all adults do] that your other perceptions can fool you, since dreams aren’t real, but for insisting that your sense of free will MUST be an accurate one. there’s no reason for that, unless you have a philosophical axe to grind, or your religion is threatened…

        as for your “does the determinist have the true view” nonsense, hell if i know, ask a determinist.

      • Tony Listi said

        There’s no point in discussing further if you or the Determinist is going to flee toward radical skepticism appealing to dreams, hallucinations, The Matrix, Evil Demon theory, etc. Of course, that undermines science itself too. I have an epistemology paper on this topic from college you might be interested in reading.

      • Azl said

        dont run away! this was just getting interesting!

        of course im not appealing to dreams, quite the opposite – i did post a small correct because i meant to type “dreams **arent** real” in the above post, but my edit seems to be stuck in moderation.

        but naturally, the whole point was that it would be childish to think that dreams are true, just because you perceive them to be. In fact, as adults, we know very clearly that our sensations are not always reliable, and we police our actions accordingly. [alcohol, for example]

        but what we have here is a sensation that you blindly insist MUST be reliable, EVERY time without question.

        In fact, by virtue of the face that you are a functional adult, that probably means this is the only such sensation that you trust absolutely.

        so the determinist just says, why? the sensation of freely choosing things need not be accurate at all. if it is just an illusion, our ability to explain the universe is not damaged – we can still construct a complete, cohesive, and consistent view of the universe around the possibility of not having free will.

      • Tony Listi said

        “childish to think that dreams are true, just because you perceive them to be”
        Who the heck thinks dreams are true? You demonstrate the obvious: we can perceive that dreams aren’t true. We know when we are dreaming and when we aren’t, at least after we wake up. We also know when we’re drunk or at least have control over whether we become drunk. All these comparisons are invalid and don’t prove anything. There’s no evidence that the act of choosing remotely resembles dreaming or hallucinating or w/e. Quite the opposite.
        A person’s own mental choice is the most authentic and truest thing they can know because it is their choice.

        If free will is an illusion, then there is no morality, no right and wrong. THAT is the grave consequence, the universe be damned. Better to have a civilized people ignorant about the physical universe than a barbaric, cruel people with immense or perfect knowledge of the universe.

      • Azl said

        The comparisons were meant simply to demonstrate that we are aware of limits to our perceptions and sensations – only a child or a fool would think otherwise, as you so rightly pointed out. [who the heck thinks dreams are true?]

        The “act of choosing” [a self-confirming turn of phrase in this context] is similar only in the sense that we experience it – we *feel* like we’ve made a choice after our actions. Fork in the road, you go right. Beforehand, you FEEL like you could go either left or right, and after you go right you FEEL like you’ve made a choice in doing so, but obviously we can never test it experimentally because we can’t go back in time.

        The fact that you refuse to question whether that sense of having made a choice or of the ability to choose things might not be accurate is what the Determinist would criticize. Why is this particular perception special?

        And you’ve answered quite plainly, even if your answer still reflects the typical misconceptions of anti-determinists:

        Morality. Anti-determinists feel their sense of morality threatened by a world without free will, and that’s precisely why they refuse to question it.

        …As if we as a society somehow would lose the ability to enforce our laws or something if determinism were somehow shown to be true. The fear of it is absurd. “If free will is an illusion, then THERE IS NO MORALITY.”

        No, it just means that YOUR morality does not have a supernatural authority behind it. A barbaric, cruel wasteland of a world is not the stakes of this debate.

      • Tony Listi said

        “The fact that you refuse to question whether that sense of having made a choice or of the ability to choose things might not be accurate”
        ROFL. Do you not catch yourself when you say such absurd things? If it’s a “fact that I refuse” to question free will, then why should I question it? By saying I “refuse,” you have already conceded that I’m right, that people can freely and willfully choose not to do things, haha.

        And I don’t refuse to question it. I can CHOOSE to question frequently, and when I do, I realize that free will exists because I made the choice to question it. haha, can’t escape it.

        If we are aware of our limits, then we should have no problem taking the constant testimony of our own experience and of others’ experience as credible.

        “we can never test it experimentally”
        Uh, sure we can. We can test it in ourselves, all the time if we wish. It’s tested every time we have a strong urge/sensation like hunger, thirst, sexual libido, pain, etc.

        “lose the ability to enforce our laws or something”
        Morality is NOT dependent on force; it’s dependent on truth, which determinism would destroy.

        No, if determinism is true, then there is no personhood and no moral truth, by definition of morality. Morality is not merely a list of enforced rules; it’s what is actually true.

  2. Azl said

    This is why i said at the beginning that you dont understand the opposite viewpoint.

    because no, its not a contradiction to posit the lack of free will and still say things like “you refuse.”

    and this is also why you seem afraid of the implications of this kind of debate, as if it would change how the world works if your side werent right.

    Determinism is not the result of someone who just sat down and thought to themselves, “I’m going to design a universe” and just started jotting down notes. The Determinist view is not a hypothetical universe that you need to be wary of ever manifesting.

    It is THIS world; Determinism is a view of, an explanation for, an evaluation of, the world as it is now – the universe we all live in.

    A Determinist just views it differently than you.

    For example, when a person performs ANY action – you see a choice, the determinist sees the outcome of a chemical reaction.

    So you laugh at phrases like “you refuse to do such and such!” because you can’t help but see that as communicating a choice – it’s not, it’s referring to an action.

    A leg that kicks could be the result of conscious effort – what you would call a choice – or it could just as easily be the result of a doctor tapping your nerve.

    To you, the distinction is choice. To the determinist, the difference is the type of chemical reaction – one is fairly straight forward, whereas the other is exorbitantly more complex and lengthy.

    One has, as variables, your ability to feel the doc’s hammer, your nerve’s functionality, your response time.

    The other has, as variables your mood, your memories, your inclinations, your recent history – things both enironmental and mental. And that makes it way more complicated and crazy! because the mental variables will co-vary, and thus be waaaay harder to predict; after all, if you go to bed angry, it can affect your mood when you wake up and remember why you were angry. If you’ve forgotten why you were mad, your mood may not be so grim, if you remember why and are still burned about it, you may get angry again. The mental variables change each other and themselves.

    But that just means the reactions are complex, and hard to predict – not that its “choice,” in the sense that you think of it.

    So no, i don’t balk at the phrase “you refuse” – I ask you to rationally consider an opposing viewpoint, which requires setting aside the presumptions you make in believing your own. In this case, it means you must consider the possibility that actions are outcomes, not choices. If you can do that, you’ll stop trying to play “gotcha” games when we talk about people *doing* things [like refusing] and instead just consider what another explanation for that observation might be.

    • Tony Listi said

      “Refusing” has a willful connotation. Perhaps you should just choose your words more carefully to avoid connotations of free choice, haha.

      Free choice IS very hard to predict in many cases precisely because it is free.

      Like I said, I freely CHOSE to consider another explanation for the manifestations of free will, and I’ve discovered by my own choosing that there is none.

      I think the Determinist just wants to ease his conscience about his predilection for statism and control over human beings. Much easier to rationalize oppression and tyranny if people don’t really have any free will and personhood of their own.

      • Azl said

        ““Refusing” has a willful connotation.”

        Everything has a willful connotation, because the default view is one of free will. It is natural to assume free will because of our sensations – we feel like we choose things.

        The obvious truth, however, is that there is no proof of this. Like I said earlier, you cannot do experiments here. When you see a fork in the road, you go either left or right. You can never go back in time and find out if you had the capacity to do the other.

        If you go right, the determinist would say you had to go right – you didnt choose it, it was the result of a complex reaction which, if we had perfect knowledge, we could quantify, but essentially, in THAT moment, you could not have gone left.

        This contradicts our sensation – we feel like we could do either. In the moment when we contemplate which fork to take, what goes through our minds are just variables in the equation to the Determinist. That’s why you cannot do experiments – you can never replicate those starting conditions precisely.

        The classic example of this is the person who says “look, of course i could have gone left; ill do it right now” and walks back to the fork and goes left.

        That second time, when he goes left instead of right, that’s a separate, distinct event. The starting conditions of that chemical reaction are not the same as the first time, because the first experience is now a factor in the second – in other words, because he went right the first time, he know has a reason to go left, which means the conditions [especially the mental conditions] are very different, and its not apples to apples.

        In fact, it can NEVER be apples to apples, because we can never perfectly re-create exactly what a person was thinking, feeling, and had just finished doing. Just being separate points in time defeats the possibility of an apples-to-apples experiment in free will because many things that happen in our brain are ongoing [like adenosine reception, for example – maybe coming to that fork again 10 minutes later means he’s slightly more tired, slightly more thirsty, dizzy, or any number of a million other mental variables]

        So what’s the beginning? The beginning of the universe, I guess. That would be what set in motion all the other physical and chemical reactions, all the way through human daily life and seemingly innocuous actions like going left or right down a road.

      • Tony Listi said

        You know what else? I think people go through all the mental gymnastics you’ve gone through because free will entails responsibility too. It’s a lot easier not to believe in free will, that way one doesn’t have to take responsibility for one’s actions. It’s a self-serving lie.

      • Azl said

        This is what I was saying before – you don’t get it. A determinist view point doesnt relieve anyone of responsibility for their actions. It’s just that the consequences and enforcements aren’t of a ‘supreme moral authority’ flavor.

        You think we couldn’t prosecute people for murder? Or excommunicate them from churches? Why?

        Taking responsibility for one’s actions – or making people take responsibility for them – is a foundational principle of simply being a social animal. In fact, that’s the evolutionary argument for the utility behind the free will sensation; we developed a sense of free will because it engenders us with this accountability that allows us to build societies, which solve a lot of problems in terms of natural selection/negative pressures.

        The supposition that that sensation of free will is an illusion does not somehow mandate that we overturn existing structures or change the way we act – in fact, it means that these behaviors [taking responsibility for actions] are so important for our survival that they are literally an evolutionary trait.

        So, no, it’s not self-serving in the least; holding a determinist viewpoint does not enable one to justify wrong actions.

      • Tony Listi said

        Oh I do get it. You are just constructing a “morality” that doesn’t exist logically or changing definitions around without stating so, in lawyerly fashion.

        Morality is not about what we could do but should do. You’re not even using the language of morality. Morality is not about utility or survival either.

        You have reduced man to a mere animal of instinct, power, and pleasure rather than a person who can know, freely choose, and pursue the true, good, and beautiful. You would have man punished like an animal devoid of free will for not following the arbitrary and trivial whims of “society” or of “evolution” rather than on the basis of truth, justice, and goodness. That’s a cruel and inhumane worldview of oppression, tyranny, suffering, and misery.

      • Azl said

        Sure, I’ve invented some new morality that I’ll just call “the morality of everyone who doesnt already agree with you.”

        It’s pretty radical. People disagree about it’s source, of course, [some attribute it Allah, some to nothing, some to weird notions about nirvana…] but for the most part, the content overlaps pretty nicely. Under this new morality, you’re not supposed to murder, rape, or steal. Generally you have an obligation to deal with others in a reasonable manner, and not infringe on their property or liberty unless to protect your own.

        Now, since a vast majority of people in the world already believe this, it’s not really a “new” morality at all, and these tenets can be obeyed and enforced regardless of what you think about determinism. Determinism just views the enforcement of these standards as utilitarian, not as a religious or supernatural command.

        You, on the other hand, dwell in the abstract and ambiguous as well – you love to throw around words like Truth and Beauty without ever saying what you actually mean, because it sounds very nice to accuse someone of DENYING MAN HIS ABILITY TO KNOW BEAUTY, but putting that into concrete terms wouldn’t be too easy.

        After all, since determinism is just another way of looking at the world as it currently is, our *abilities* under that viewpoint could not possibly be different then they are now, unless you’re talking about the supernatural, or things for which there are no evidence. If I’m a painter and art collector, and I find Beauty in my art and that of others, in a Determinist view, I have all the same abilities to paint, collect, view, and appreciate. So if you want something to be missing from that picture – something to be a difference between determinist and free-will perspectives – you’ve gotta come up with something that’s purely abstract, and can’t be observed or tested.

        And hey, that’s not an easy burden. I wouldn’t want to define my terms either in those circumstances.

      • Tony Listi said

        You aren’t inventing a “new morality;” you’re merely ignoring/dismissing morality by saying there is no one, true, and absolute morality but only human opinions/inventions and the power to enforce or resist them.

        Without morality with a status beyond human opinion, there’s no reason to obey except fear and/or force. Without free will, the enforcement of morality is undignified, like herding animals.

        What are the highest values of your “morality”? Utility? Useful FOR WHAT? Survival?

  3. Tony Listi said

    The case of the human person, if body and soul, would bridge the gap between the empirical and metaphysical (as would a miracle), allowing the empirical to reveal, or at least suggest, the existence of the metaphysical.

    I ask you: what changes the structure of brains? When a person claims to choose to do mental exercises aimed at learning something or eliminating a mental disorder and that person’s brain structure changes so as to actually learn something or remove the disorder, what do you make of that? Is there some other reasonable explanation for the structural changes other than the personal-intentional mind? And if this immaterial mind can act upon and change the material structure of the brain, does that not suggest an independent existence for the mind?

    Does the human body actually reveal a person that makes free choices and thinks free thoughts? Or is it just another organism driven by instinct?
    When a human body/mouth speaks the word “I” or “me,” is that just an empirical phenomenon of an animal organism or the revelation of the metaphysical and invisible reality of the personhood/soul united to the body?

    It is not irrational or illogical to posit or accept the existence of something based on its leftover visible effects, even if it itself is invisible to human eyes (modern physics does this, I believe). It may be a different kind of reasoning and science. It may not be experimental science perhaps, if other factors can’t be reasonably controlled for. It may be forensic science perhaps, but it is no less reasonable, though perhaps less certain in some sense.

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