The Immortality of Gullibility

One of my readers left a comment on my Religion vs. Science piece and provided a link to the site “Soulgineering.” Muddling around in there, I came across this article, Physics and the Immortality of the Soul.

I can’t argue the science, but – being a writer and editor – I do have something of a feel for language, and the article is a not-very-artful mess of waffling and padding. If this was an article about heroin addiction, the writer would be easily recognizable as an enabler.

In a recent article in Discover Magazine, Sean M. Carroll tackles the often controversial subject of whether there is life after death.  Sean concludes that although a majority of people (more than 50% according to the Pew Research Center) believe in some form of afterlife, current day understanding of scientific laws make it highly improbable, if not outright impossible.

Paraphrasing: Sean concludes that although a majority of addicts eagerly await their next fix, current day understanding of addiction make it highly inadvisable, if not outright dangerous.

Even if you don’t believe that human beings are “simply” collections of atoms evolving and interacting according to rules laid down in the Standard Model of particle physics, most people would grudgingly admit that atoms are part of who we are. If it’s really nothing but atoms and the known forces, there is clearly no way for the soul to survive death. Believing in life after death, to put it mildly, requires physics beyond the Standard Model. Most importantly, we need some way for that “new physics” to interact with the atoms that we do have.

Even if you don’t buy into the need for regular fixes of heroin, most people would grudgingly admit that most of what we do constitutes addiction. Without SOME sort of addictions, we’d probably just die, or be really, really bored.

Sean points out that the mathematical equation that describes how electrons behave in our everyday world is called the Dirac equation.  Roughly speaking, this equation describes the relationship between the velocity of an electron and its inertia, and electromagnetism and gravity.  However, Sean admits that the equation is not complete as it hasn’t taken into account nuclear forces and the existence of the elusive Higgs boson (or God particle).   Could the inclusion of these help create that “new physics” that Sean requires in order to allow for the existence of a soul, and by extension, the existence of an afterlife?

Ooh, “mathematical” equations! Paraphrasing again: Medical authorities widely decry the negative impacts of heroin addiction. However, they would all be forced to admit that we don’t know everything about the human body and brain. Could it be that addiction serves some vital purpose we’re not yet aware of?

But this paragraph …

Most of the information that we have regarding the existence of an afterlife comes from people’s accounts of near death experiences (NDE’s) and encounters with ghosts and spirits, or from religious teachings.  Scientists have yet to prove that these NDE’s are real and not just a figment of the imagination.  Regarding religious teachings, these are based on faith and not on scientific inquiry and knowledge. In order to believe in an afterlife, one must believe there there (sic) is some form of consciousness that persists after our bodies deteriorate.  Most people refer to that “consciousness” as a soul.  This leads to further questions of what that soul is, what it is comprised of, and how it interacts with the atoms that make up our bodies.

… strike me as easily refuted, even by a doofus like me.

“Most” of the information we have regarding the existence of an afterlife? Try “all.”

“Scientists have yet to prove that these NDE’s are real and not just a figment of the imagination.” On the science side of it, there isn’t even any suggestion that they might be real. Because on the other side, godders have yet to offer any shred of evidence that they might be anything but subjective imaginings.

“Most people refer to that ‘consciousness’ as a soul.” Yeah, except for those of us who refer to consciousness as “consciousness,” and souls as “non-existent.”

“This leads to further questions of what that soul is, what it is comprised of, and how it interacts with the atoms that make up our bodies.” But only if you haven’t paid attention to anything anybody reputable says about it.

This article is like a photograph of food offered to someone so far gone in starvation they’d try to eat anything. The only readers I can imagine getting any sustenance at all from it are those either so senile that they fail to realize the article reaches no conclusion (in fact, it actually contains neither evidence nor argument), or those so mentally wrecked they can’t even understand the process of reason, much less exhibit it, and will simply assume that anything written down in a typeset article must be true.

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About Hank Fox
  • kraut

    It is easy – scientists should try to disprove the existence of the celestial teapot or the FSM.

    Those arguments are in the same league of idiocy. Postulate the existence of some something without evidence and then try to fiddle around with the data to show that there might be the hint of a shadow of a possibility because some reports based on nothing but the subjective impressions of a brain starved of oxygen.

    If that bis science, homeopathy is even more so.

  • Steinar

    Most importantly, we need some way for that “new physics” to interact with the atoms that we do have.

    No, actually “we” don’t “need” a special loophole in order to recognize wishful thinking. My education is from physics, and I fail to see anything of consequence in the linked article. My summary would be “Mr Carroll has a highly unlikely fantasy and some misunderstandings about basic science he hopes to use for rationalizations.” I agree on the comparison with enablers, the amount of weasel words, misdirection and rhetoric parlor tricks are certainly par for the course… It seems Russel’s comments on teapot atheism really didn’t explain anything for some people.

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