Sunday, June 30, 2019

Other evidence for the existence of the immaterial soul.

I have been off dealing with a collapsed spine trying to throttle my spinal cord so couldn’t be here much, and still don’t know how much I can be on. All the pain of backsurgery an drugs didn’t stop me from thinking about things. I don’t know how much I will be able to respond to the complaints I will get for the next two days, I have lots of doctors appointments.

I ran in to this in my latest New Scientist and it offered some interesting tidbits about the nature of our consciousness. The cover of the magazine teases the reader’s interest with the words: “Why the laws of the universe explain everything…except you.” Interestingly just the day before my son told me of a podcast he had heard about the lack of alien civilizations in our universe. Two physicists were being interviewed about it. One said that if we can’t find any other civilization it would seem to mean that we are very special and might imply the existence of a God. But he went on to say, ‘We’re physicist and can’t postulate that’ or something very similar. In my opinion it is in physics that design shows through the brightest, but it is consistently ignored. We will start with the laws of nature and move into experiments in psychology.

The god-like status we accord ourselves is highly suspicious to many physicists. ‘If I’m saying that something doesn’t boil down to the laws of physics, then I’m basically positing something supernatural, that’s outside natural laws,’ Says Matt Leifer at Chapman university in California.
"That has been a popular way out for natural philosophers over the years, in various forms of mind-body-dualism; the idea that he mental and physical realms are separate, and the rules of one don’t apply to the other. But that hardly seems a tenable position within modern science. “Being a full-on dualist is quite hard because it does look , for instance, like when I put lots of serotonin in your brain, your mental states change,” says Knox. "The question is how you think that could work if you think there’s two kinds of separate stuff ." Richard Webb, "Finding our place in the Universe, New Scientist Feb 15,2020, 36

Easy. A car is just an interface device we use to transport ourselves from point A to point B. You are a separate thing from the car; you can do mathematics, it can’t. It is your intentions that determine where the car goes to. You make decisions; it can’t. Even with automated cars, you must insert the intentionality into the car via the address of the place you wish to go. I and the car are two separate things. Pour water into the gas tank and see how well this automobile performs its function! Same with overloading the brain with too much or too little of some chemical it needs in moderation. Its state can be altered as well by putting chemicals into it. Another example. pour a cup of water over your computer’s mother board and see if the computer’s state changes. You won’t be able to use it again probably. Again, the computer is a lump of connected silicon chips which don’t do anything until I tell it to, say, capture these words in a word processor, or play a game, or do scientific calculations via a program I wrote. The computer itself has no intentionality.

Secondly, notice how his reason for rejecting the supernatural is based upon the expectations of modern physics. It isn’t a tenable position if he wants to fit into the crowd, stay employed and have a chance at the Nobel. His position assumes the consequence that there is nothing but physical laws, therefore, speaking of things outside of natural law is verboten. Such a view is a faith, not data.

Thirdly, if all we are is chemical/electrical reactions inside a fantastically complexly connection machine made of cells, then damaging it should always bring about impaired behavior. It does often but sometimes things get interesting. How can a person with half their brain become normal? Take out half a computer motherboard and it won’t do a thing. Take out half an engine in a car, and it too won’t do a thing, depending on if you cut across the car’s width or along the car’s length. Consider C1, a teen:

A teenager who was born without the entire left hemisphere of her brain has above-average reading skills–despite missing the part of the brain that is typically specialised for language–New Scientist can exclusively reveal.
"The 18-year-old also has an average-to-high IQ and plans to go to university. Brain scans reveal she has more of the type of brain tissue involved in reading than typical. Tests of her brain activity indicate that the right side of her brain has taken on some of the functions of the left, suggesting that the organ has adapted to compensate for the missing tissue. " Jessica Hamzelou, “Teenager excels with half a brain.” New Scientist Feb 15, 2020, p.10
C1 is not the only person with this condition. In the early 1980’s John Lorber was regularly working with people like C1:

'There’s a young student at this university," says Lorber, ‘who has an IQ of 126, has gained a first-class honors degree in mathematics, and is socially completely normal. And yet the boy has virtually no brain.’ The student’s physician at the university noticed that the youth had a slightly larger than normal head, and so referred him to Lorber, simply out of interest. ‘When we did a brain scan on him,’ Lorber recalls, 'we saw that instead of the normal 4.5-centimeter thickness of brain tissue between the ventricles and the cortical surface, there was just a thin layer of mantle measuring a millimeter or so. His cranium is filled mainly with cerebrospinal fluid." Roger Lewin, “Is Your Brain Really Necessary,” Science, Dec. 12,1980, p. 1232.

A friend sent me this clipping but failed to provide the date of the paper.
“Bruce Lipstadt, as a child, suffered 10 to 12 seizures a day. His mental abilities were deteriorating and his life was in danger. In 1953, Dr. Oscar Sugar, Chief of Neurosurgery at the Abraham Lincoln School of Medicine, removed the offending left half of the 5-1/2 year old’s brain. His parents were told that he would not be able to talk, that he would be paralyzed on one side of his body, and, that he would have no balance. None of those things happened to Bruce. Years later Bruce and his father attended the same statistics course at DePaul University; Bruce received an A and his father, with a full brain, got a B.” Ronald Kotulak, “Losing Half His Brain Leaves Man Scientific Phenomenon,” Chicago Tribune, date unknown, probably mid to late 1980’s.(One can find online information on Bruce Lipstadt at:

Then, of course, one can’t ignore Wilder Penfield’s work:
Then Dr Penfield, using state-of-the-art technology, artificially activated that part of the brain and the arm rose up. The subject described the event as: “My arm went up.” Dr Penfield specifically asked: “Did you raise your arm?” The subject replied with full certainty: “I didn’t raise my hand. My arm rose up by itself.” When Dr Penfield deactivated the brain and the arm went down, the patient described: “My arm fell down; I did not bring it down.”
This simple experiment had profound implications: in both cases, the brain was activated to raise and lower the arm. But in the second case, Dr Penfield, an external agent, was activating the brain. Who was the agent activating it in the first case? In both cases, the brain was serving as a machine to transmit the intention of an agent. In the second case, it transmitted Dr Penfield’s intention. In the first case, whose intention did it transmit? Could the mysterious agent be the soul? Dr Penfield had started his brain research with the explicit intention of disproving the existence of the soul, but after conducting experiments like the above one for forty years, he came to an unambiguous conclusion: “The brain is a computer, but it is programmed by something outside of itself.” Read more

In temporal region, Penfield found that memories could be revived.
Here, Penfield’s electrical explorations resulted in the patient undergoing experiences of a forced deja vu; again and again, the stimulating electrode acted as a memory activator bringing back a distinct ‘single recollection,’ not ‘a mixture of memories or generalizations’ (Penfield , 1952, p. 180. But in contrast to the sensory or the motor cortex, there was no apparent topographical correspondence between the position of the electrode and the experiential content or the emotional quality of a memory re-actualized and hence Penfield could not control the experience with his electrode. Instead, the recollections evoked by the electrical activation of the temporal cortex retained the rich details of the original experience–and often even more strongly compared to the habitual act of remembering. The memories forced into the patient’s consciousness were experienced not only as a present but often as ‘more real’ than regular memories, and the patients retained some sense of mixed reality, 'somehow doubly conscious of two simultaneous situations . (Penfield, 1952, p 184)."Bruce R Reichenbach, and V. Elving Anderson, On Behalf of God: A Christian Ethic for Biology, p. 287

In one experiment I recall reading about Penfield asked the patient if he could stop his arm from rising. While the patient’s ‘I’ couldn’t override the voltage of Penfield’s probe, the agent inside the patient used the other arm to hold the offending arm down. This action shows clearly that the patient has a will to cause action, against what Penfield was doing to him.
Of these experiments where Penfield caused bodily motion in others, it is written:

There is an “I” (as in “I did not cause the movement”) who, when it has access to the computer (brain) can program movements. If someone else gains access to the computer, however, the “I” is fully aware that the machine is being run by another person. The “I” and the brain are, therefore, not the same thing. The “I” must be a non-cerebral conscious entity, i.e., a soul .

In other experiments, Penfield was able to evoke remarkable life-like memory experiences by stimulating the diseased temporal lobe in patients suffering from temporal lobe seizures. Patients were amazed at being able to re-experience events that had occurred long ago. However, they were equally aware of the fact that they were presently undergoing surgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute. Obviously, the “I” who was engaged in these experiences was something other than and aloof from the brain that was stimulated to “play back” these experiences from the past. The patients’ consciousness and memory experience were not one and the same, but rather the “I” was viewing the activity of the brain. Penfield reported that there is no place in the cerebral cortex where electrical stimulation will cause a patient to believe, decide or will. These are not functions of brain, but of the “I” or soul . "

The following author believes Penfield’s views to be fantastical, it does quote an important point of Penfield’s:
Such a frontier has to be envisaged, because Penfield sees all brain action as “automatic,” “reflex,” or “computational”; and yet, clearly, man himself is not an automaton. Thus Penfield sums up his views:
"After years of striving to explain the basis of mind on the the basis of brain-action alone, I have come to the conclusion that it is simpler…if one adopts the hypothesis that our being does consist of two fundamental elements ."

Why do we not hear more about this? Because modern science works from the assumption that the mind is what the brain does. Psychologist Joshua Greene said:

“Most people are dualists. Intuitively, we think of ourselves not as physical devices, but as immaterial minds or souls housed in physical bodies. Most experimental psychologists and neuroscientists disagree, at least officially. The modern science of mind proceeds on the assumption that the mind is simply what the brain does. We don’t talk much about this, however. We scientists take the mind’s physical basis for granted. Among the general public, it’s a touchy subject.”

I have searched the web for arguments against the soul’s existence. I am amazed that no one seems to address what is wrong with Penfield’s work. Basically what I am finding are things like this, which basically say, ‘the brain makes the soul’ leaving us without any evidence of how this happens.

“Emergent properties are those that appear beyond a certain scale of organisation even though they are not present in the underlying structure20,21. If you microscopically examine a painted picture of a flower, you can catalogue the physical properties of the molecules of paint without ever finding a trace of the outline of a flower: only through their pattern as a whole does form, shape and beauty emerge. In biology and physics there are many complicated features that emerge from simple rules, simple interactions, merely repeated on a large scale22. Our consciousness arises from complex neuronal activity in our brain23,24,25. Some imagine that on larger scales, entire planets might be conscious (the Gaia hypothesis), or even the entire Universe (scientific pantheism).”

“Consciousness as an Emergent Property” by Vexen Crabtree (2016)
Often the lack of a brain locality, in which the ‘executive’, the soul, integrates everything is used to say the soul doesn’t exist, but couldn’t that argument be turned on its head and used to say that the ‘executive’ doesn’t reside in the brain but in some other dimension? I don’t see why not!

"There is no single stream of consciousness in which all information is brought together by an executive ego. There are instead multiple streams of activity, some of which contribute momentarily to conscious thought and then phase out. Consciousness is the massive coupled aggregates of such participating circuits.” “Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge” by E. O. Wilson (1998)

Wilson’s objection supposes that there is nothing exterior to the universe where the integration occurs. Consider a person playing the organ via wifi and from another room. If someone examined only the organ which has as many as 152 or more inputs, he would merely see keys going up and down, with no one local acting as the agent to force the keys to move. From Penfield’s work it seems clear that something exists external to the brain. Maybe that the integration occurs external to the brain, with the brain being an interface device with multiple input points where the external agent inserts information.

Experimental evidence says that the existence of the observer in quantum mechanics is outside the laws of physics. W are not material boys and girls but we consist of body and soul. Frauchiger and Renner recently demonstrated that if you include multiple observers in a quantum situation, they will report observing contradictory results to the experiment. This is problematic because we observe the same reality. Proietti et al, who designed an experiment based upon Frauchiger and Renner’s theoretical work obtained contradictory results. They concluded:

…the violation of inequality (2) implies that at least one of the three assumptions of free choice, locality, and observer-independent facts must fail. Since abandoning free choice and locality might not resolve the contradiction [5], one way to accommodate our result is by proclaiming that facts of the world can only be established by a privileged observer - e.g., one that would have access to the global wavefunction in the many worlds interpretation " Massimiliano Proietti et al, Experimental rejection of observer-independence in the quantum world 1, p. 4

As Smolin said of the many world’s view:

This formulation preserves the idea that there is a single objective view of reality by the extreme means of making that the view of an observer who does not live in the world."
It seems to me that the only possible name for such an observer is God , and the theory is to be criticized as being unlikely on these grounds." Lee Smolin, The Life of the Cosmos Oxford University press, 1997 p. 263-264

And as all good physicists do, he rejects any idea of the supernatural upon philosophical not observational grounds.
Concerning the soul’s existence, it seems both neurology and physics provide evidence affording reasonable evidence to believe that our souls exist apart from and above, this material world."
What happens to the soul is the question we get answered at the end of life, or don’t if the atheists are correct.

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