[asa] consciousness, ASA article feedback (was: RE: (fall-away) TE and apologetics)

From: Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
Date: Tue Sep 22 2009 - 11:26:50 EDT

Ted- good idea to discuss that ASA article. I did last night; three points:

"Neuroscience, Theology, and Unintended Consequences"

Point 1:
It seemed to validate my current thinking. I think the main point of the argument was that neuroscience experts and many modern theologians now see the soul as emergence, as in a form of monism. There seems to be a beef with this idea and the theologians who hold it, saying the theologians aren't dealing with some of the theological consequences, such as the incarnation or resurrection. You mentioned all the Christian deep thinkers on philosophy, but this article seemed to make the claim that they were being shallow (or not diligent) in not looking at all the comprehensive "consequences" of their positions (RE: Nancy Murphy was mentioned).
Actually, that was my path. First, I never thought too much about this mind/body issue. Then I understood at the last ASA conference that emergence seemed logical and was acceptable theologically. Then, trying to figure out how it works, I found it was best to jettison the whole idea of a supernatual soul (one that lives on after death). Then all the tough questions are resolved! Do we live after death? No. Is our mind different than that of the animals? Only in degree, not in kind (Darwin said this too). How many souls does an identical twin or chimera have at conception? There is no supernatural soul, so the answer is zero. What will senile or toddlers be like in heaven, and do they go to heaven? There is no after life, so there's no heaven. One may not like the answers, but the answers seem clear and logical.
Point 2:
Here's a question for the author. Article said:
"Contemporary neuroscientists commonly believe that soul is no more than a set of functions of complexly organized matter, that is, the brain and its associated organs, affected by the social environment."
Assuming this is true, why is it that most believe this? I would like to see this point elaborated. I think this would be a good "learning moment" for those seeking understanding.
I'm willing to bet there is some underlying logic that makes sense, and I agree with it. For example, the brain shows/does 1) intelligence 2) communication 3) shapes culture 4) learns from culture. There is a feedback where more intelligence can lead to a higher culture, and all this is done through communication. A positive spiral over time, as long as people don't kill each other in war. The progression of the state of science is a testimony to this spiral going upward, with the pace increasing. And it will continue to rapidly advance, with the only danger coming from war, terrorists, and other crazies/fanatics getting too much power.
Point 3:
Article said:
"While it is easy to say that the soul survives and will be united to a new body, we have not interacted with disembodied souls. So, as far as empirical evidence goes, there may be none."
This brings up an irritant of mine when it comes to science and God. Can science prove anything at all supernaturally? If yes, then God is found out by science, so people can now accept God on facts rather than faith. But God's game is faith, so he always makes it impossible to prove him in any science. It is as if God wants to be the grand chief of hide-and-seek. Just like in evolution, we can't find any evidence of God guiding it, because then he would have been found out, so he has to hide behind front-loading. That's also why the multiverse theory will turn out to be true, because if God could be proven by the big-bang, then people would believe on him because of the science facts, not faith; and God requires the game of faith to be played.

-----Original Message-----
From: Ted Davis [mailto:TDavis@messiah.edu]
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2009 12:15 PM
To: asa; Dehler, Bernie
Cc: D.F.Siemens@ame8.swcp.com
Subject: RE: [asa] RE: (fall-away) TE and apologetics


I appreciate your willingness to engage these issues. My own view is not fully formed; I don't know exactly what I think, relative to "soul" and the Bible, let alone what I think of consciousness--many top philosophers don't have a good idea about the mind/brain issue, either, so I don't feel too badly about that. But, since I don't have a clear view on this myself, I am not committed to any one model for interpreting scripture, either.

You call for some focused discussion, which I applaud. How about this. Suppose we discuss this article by David Siemens, who likes to participate here:

If David wants to expand on any of his points, I'd like that very much. But this could be a starting place. Would you agree?


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Received on Tue Sep 22 11:27:47 2009

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