Existence of a Soul

Existence of a Soul - Existence of a Soul Science or...

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Unformatted text preview: Existence of a Soul: Science or Pseudoscience? Whitney Walker Julia Fang Role of the Soul in EVP EVP: Electronic Voice Phenomena­ unexpected voices found in recording media and thought to be some sort of communication after death It includes all of the unexpected voices and images found in technology Explained by the Survival Hypothesis: we are nonphysical entities (like souls) that exist before and after our current lifetime in our physical bodies White Noise This can be seen in the 2005 movie, White Noise, where Jonathan Rivers’ wife, Anna, dies. Jonathan is contacted by a man claiming that he has messages from her using EVP. He becomes obsessed with trying to contact her. Philosophical Views: Introduction Socrates: ancient Greek philosopher who believed that the soul was eternal and of the highest importance Plato: influential Greek philosopher who was a student of Socrates, felt that the soul was the essence of a person Aristotle: Greek philosopher, teacher of Alexander the Great, he believed that a person and his soul were not separate entities Philosophical Views: Socrates Clearly believed in the existence of a soul He thought that the soul was eternal and self­determined Believed that everything concerned and affected the soul Philosophical Views: Plato Built upon Socrates’ belief in the soul Felt that the soul is the essence of a person­­it affects how we act (balance) His view on the 3 parts of the soul: 1. Reason (mind) 2. Appetite (passion) 3. Spirit (emotion) Philosophical Views: Aristotle Agreed with his predecessors Socrates and Plato, but did not believe that the soul was separate from the body Analogy of the knife to humans Therefore the soul is not immortal Religious Background: Introduction Explore what other religions think of the soul Religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Baha’I, Judaism Religious Background: Buddhism Concept of Anatta: all things are constantly changing, our body and mind are ever­changing entities (avoid conflict) In death, body and mind disintegrate­­ karma Many Buddhists reject reincarnation or rebirth because they think it is incompatible with anatta Religious Background: Christianity The soul is regarded as the immortal essence of a human, after death, God rewards/punished the soul depending on one’s good deeds or belief in God and Jesus As a non­material entity, the soul survives bodily death (support from Bible) Other Christian Beliefs Religious Background: Hinduism Atman (= self) is the Sanskrit word that most closely resembles the meaning of a soul According to the Bhagavadgita (part of Vedic literature), the soul is made up of: – (i) eternity – (ii) knowledge – (iii) bliss Religious Background: Islam According to Qur’an, at birth the soul is an intangible part of a person’s existence (pure to achieving nearness to God) At death, the person’s soul goes to heaven or hell depending on how the person treated his soul when he was alive Religious Background: Jainism Belief in jiva: immortmal essence of a person (like a soul) Also believe in reincarnation and how karma determines the next form Religious Background: Baha’i The soul lives on after a person dies because it is immortal Heaven is seen as the souls state of closeness to God, and vice versa No reincarnation; soul’s evolution is always to reach God Spiritual and intellectual development of our soul in this world is solely based on us Religious Background: Judaism Hebrew Bible has no systematic definition of a soul­­ we know about the soul from classical rabbinical literature – The soul is part of a person’s mind (physical desire, emotion, and thought) – The soul has no substance, part of a person’s developed intellect – In Kabbalah, the soul has 3 elements (nefesh, ru’ah, and neshamah) The Science of Souls Western science recognize the concept Oriental medicine recognizes the existence Two Hypotheses: – Materialistic existence that explains the brain function and beliefs – Non­material conscious but modern science doesn’t have the tools Technological and Sociological constraints – Details of brain function still unknown If proven to exist, anxiety over death would be diminished Movie Clip: 21 Grams Science: 1907 Dr. Duncan MacDougall His hypothesis: – If the Soul is material, then the soul has mass – Measured by change in weight at time of death Methodology Affixed a balance to a hospital bed Six patients near death – – – Four Tuberculosis One Diabetes One unspecified Intensive observations Results The first patient: – At that time death: “the beam end dropped with an audible stroke hitting against the lower limiting bar and remaining there with no rebound” This first measurement was the 21 grams – Other observations: “The bowels did not move; if they had moved the weight would still have remained upon the bed except for a slow loss by the evaporation of moisture depending” The second patient: – Half an ounce weight loss – One ounce and a half loss total after the death was confirmed The third patient: – Half an ounce loss at time of death, and – One ounce loss a few minutes later Results Continued The fourth patient – – – – – Scales were not finely adjusted Interfered by opposition Experiment scrapped Three­eighths of an ounce loss at time of death “Peculiarly on bringing the beam up again with weights and later removing them, the beam did not sink back to stay for fully fifteen minutes." The fifth case: The sixth case: – Repeated experiment with fifteen dogs – – “The patient died almost within five minutes after being placed upon the bed and died while I was adjusting the beam." No loss of weight at death Corresponded with belief that only humans have souls Arguments Against Small sample size Imprecise method of measurement Unethical High experimental error Time of death was disputable Varied widely 21 Grams Conclusion Largely recognized as an Urban Legend But makes for a great dramatic movie! Reincarnation Dr. Ian Stevenson Physician and psychiatrist from University of Virginia 37 years of study Detailed testimonies: 3,000 International research Case Studies Sheila Young Boy Joseph Suzanne Braham Child Arguments For “…had collected cases in which the evidence is difficult to explain on any other grounds” ­JAMA 1975 Many of the families didn’t believe in reincarnation– many were motivated by disbelief 100 accounts of non­tribal North American Children Firsthand witness in many accounts Meticulous research – Noted bias and all other motivations – Cross­checking Arguments Against Motivation– grief for the family and desire for return Asking leading questions Human fallibility Altered the tone of the witness– more impressive Occam’s Razor: the simpler explanation is better Reincarnation Conclusion No normal explanation exists Explanation is beyond current understanding Stevenson isn’t ignoring contrary evidence – More enthusiastic to find a contradiction Nothing discernable to the eye of the spirit is more brilliant or obscure than man; nothing is more formidable, complex, mysterious, and infinite. There is a prospect greater than the sea, and it is the sky; there is a prospect greater than the sky, and it is the human soul. Victor Hugo, Les Miserables French dramatist, novelist, & poet (1802 ­ 1885) Discussion Questions Should science be interested in the soul? Does science have a place in the search for the soul? Should Dr. Stevenson’s work receive the credit he is asking for? – If no, what could he do to become more accredited? Can the existence of a soul be measurable or quantified? Do you believe that the soul is non­materialistic or materialistic? Are there any moral implications of investigating the soul? – If we find out that reincarnation is in fact reality, how will this information be taken? Is it easier to consider these experiments as pseudoscience or should the scientific community try to expand their horizons into the metaphysical? ...
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