Hello. I would like your help with something. I talk to atheists relatively often online. One issue some of them have raised is that the soul’s existence is disproven or unnecessary because of neurology. I know this is false and have argued with them as such, but I’m not very well-versed in neurology so I can’t really answer some of their secific claims about the basis of certain faculties of the soul, such as reason and free will, being explainable by neurology. Can you guys give me some help on this? To me it seems like neurological claims such as this aren’t very exact, since they seem to just notice parts of the brain exhibit activity when a particular action is performed, but I know little about it.
The soul, while intimately united to the body, is spiritual—non-material. Its faculties of intellect and will allow us to abstract general ideas from the totality of our sense perceptions which are integrated in the brain.
Now, if all human thought is determined by neurology, that includes your atheist friends thoughts as well: they didn’t personally originate those ideas, they are just a result of their brain neurology. And why should their neurology be any more accurate than yours or mine?
Talking to internet atheists is a futile endeavor in my experience. It’s a philosophical question, hence the discipline of philosophy of mind. A correlation of electrical activity in the brain and thought does not imply identity, which the materialist is committed to.
You might like this video. Check out Ed Feser’s blog too, a great philosopher of mind.
Neurology is merely a part of physiological function.
Yes, we are created beings. As created beings, we have a nervous system. We have blood. We breath air and have a respiratory system.
A person could just as easily claim that human do not have a soul because of the respiratory system that takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide as because of the nervous system.
Neurology deals with both the autonomic or central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The heart beats and the lungs continue to take in air. The body responses to outside stimulus such as heat, cold, and pain, and takes reflexive action.
There is more to a human than mere reflexive action transmitted by electrical stimuli.
I appreciate everyone’s responses, though they don’t seem to exactly address my question. Many modern brain scientists assert that our mental functions are based in the brain, including ones normally attributed to the immaterial soul, such as reason and free will, and many atheists now are using this as evidence to disprove the soul. I know they’re wrong, but I’m trying to find neurological grounds for disputing them.
If reason and free will are simply material bodily functions of the brain, then those who say that reason and free will are outputs of the brain are simply voicing the results of their own brain function. There is no personal thought involved, just brain output. If my thought that reason and free will are faculties of an immaterial soul is in fact nothing but a material brain output, then our two conclusions can not be distinguished as to truth of falsity. They are both equally material brain outputs. If it’s all determined by material brain output, who can say which brain output corresponds to reality? I hope none of these neuroscientists take any personal credit for any of their research and writings, since they have no personal abstract thinking of their own involved. By their own admission, it’s all just the result of neurons firing.
Attempts have been made to ‘prove’ the existence of the soul by, for example, placing a patient, bed and all, on a very precise scale. In this case, a very slight weight loss was noticed. It was decided that it was his last breath, specifically, water vapor leaving his body at his last breath.
a) There is no reason for science to study an invisible thing. It is beyond the limitations of inquiry of science, including neurologists. So, no scientists would acknowledge such a thing as real. Neurology cannot disprove something it cannot see or study. Many people, including a few I know, have claimed to have seen ghosts and even described them in detail, but such supernatural manifestations are beyond the realm of science to study. A ghost cannot be kept in a lab for observation and is non-corporeal, so it could not be tested. A few have tried but nothing scientific has been established.
The question was asked for a list of neurologists who are Christians.
It would be a very long list. Neurologists are by definition doctors. I know many Christian doctors, just as I know many Muslim doctors.
Have I been treated by Christian and Muslim doctors? Yes.
Were any of them neurologists? Again, the answer is yes. Even if I had doctors who gave me their mobile numbers to call, I would not list their names in a public forum.
Their purpose as doctors was to treat me physically.
Mental functions are “based in the brain” depending on what this means.
Close your eyes and the visual world disappears. Clearly, the nervous system is necessary to the formation of the experience.
The question of the relationship between “neurology and the soul”, lies in the reality that is the body-spirit unity of the person.
You open and close your eyes and you need a brain to “process” the event; but, it is only you who experiences it.
There isn’t one massive universal experience containing the totality of all these events; it is individual - we experience our lives as spiritual beings existing in relation to God and creation.
To know something, to think requires a spiritual structure which not so much forces brain cells to connect to one another, but is that aspect of a person that permits us to do this as one mind-brain being.
A neurosurgeon. Dr. Eben Alexander, who clearly knows his stuff, wrote of his near-death experience. It makes for a very interesting read. One doesn’t have to buy into everything he says in terms of explanations, but as an account of who he was, is, the science involved and of his experiences, it rings true.
TLDNR - Scientism is a superstitious belief that matter can cause the supernatural.