For those who think that there •may be• validity to the bullshit concept of the human soul.

This comes via Common Sense Atheism. The whole thing is great, but the bit I’m specifically concerned with occurs at approximately 4:40-9:20.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the claim that there is a human soul (but it’s been a lot). Even from some atheists! Every time, without exception, when I ask what the asserter defines the soul to be and how the asserter knows, I’m ALWAYS met with floundering rationalization. Some paraphrased, based-on-actual examples:

“It’s, well, it’s that part of us that’s
HUMAN/UNIQUE/COMPASSIONATE/INSERT-GOOD-THING.”

or

“I know humans have a soul because nature’s pretty.”

or

“It’s that part of us, our essence, our energy, that exists after we die.”

Etc.

And when I press the asserter on how exactly he’s defining the soul, whence he derives his defintions, and how he knows that his
definitions are true, I’m met with even more floundering
rationalization:

“I helped a stranger find his glasses he’d dropped. A monkey wouldn’t do that!” (Monkeys have been proven to be compassionate.)

or

“How do you explain beauty or the fact that humans find things beautiful?!” (Beauty is a human construct. Humans react to stimulus.)

or

“The energy in our brains is NOT just electricity! It’s been scientifically proven to linger after we die!” (How, when, and by whom that was an objectively verified, peer-reviewed, scientific study?)

If I press any further, the asserter invariably becomes defensive and emotional. The conversation usually finishes with some version of the following:

“If you don’t want to believe in a soul, that’s your right. But I do!”

The concept of a soul is made-up bullshit. In previous eras, we had no way of verifying the claims made about it. Now we do. For every claim made about the soul, there is zero evidence. It may be popular, comforting bullshit, but bullshit it remains.

6 Responses to “For those who think that there •may be• validity to the bullshit concept of the human soul.”

  1. I have no problem with you not understanding/knowing that you, your existence is more than the sum of its mechanical parts. I can prove the existence of my soul, in I can prove the existence of my spirit.
    It is irrefutable in my core understanding of my life, and frankly I need no outside help in this knowledge. You desire to limit yourself to the physical portion of your existence, be my guest, though regrettable, it most certainly is your option.
    Trust only your minds, and be limited by the common things all physical humanity is likewise limited to.
    As for your claim of absence of religion… hogwash. There is absolutely no difference between your organizations belief system and any other religious system on this earth. It shares all the same ear marks, including the human need to discredit those who do not believe as you do. I find no such need, and neither do those in any religion who have discovered their spiritual awareness because we now understand the spiritual nature of our beings, and how that is above and beyond the merely physical, temporary state we now appear in.

    • Anton A. Hill Says:

      Hi Yannos,

      Thanks for dropping by.

      >I have no problem with you not understanding/knowing that you, your existence is more than the sum of its mechanical parts.

      Let me stop you right there. You assume that I don’t understand/know that my existence is more than the sum of its mechanical parts, but to claim such requires evidence. There is none.

      >I can prove the existence of my soul, in I can prove the existence of my spirit.

      What do you mean by “spirit”?

      >It is irrefutable in my core understanding of my life, and frankly I need no outside help in this knowledge.

      But see right here, you already concede. You claim “irrefutable”, but then you toss in subjective bullshit like “my core understanding of my life”, which is just a verbose way of saying, “there’s a soul because I think there is.” You confirm this by admitting, “frankly, I need no outside help in this knowledge.” And why not? Don’t you want to be absolutely certain of your claim? Don’t you want to test it to make sure you’re not in error? If not, how honest can you claim to be in your convictions? Ultimately, this is a defense mechanism by which you don’t have to admit that there’s no evidence for your claim. You just say, “I don’t need one.” Well, no, you don’t need one in the same way that you don’t need to take a bath in grape jelly, but you’ve made an absolute claim about the nature of reality, for which all you have to offer in terms of evidence is that, um, well, you think it’s true.

      >You desire to limit yourself to the physical portion of your existence, be my guest, though regrettable, it most certainly is your option.

      I love how theists always presume to read my mind. My desire on the matter is irrelevant. I used to believe in the survival of the personality through death based on the notion of the energy in the brain that, I thought, releases after death. But I was being an ignorant moron. Upon research with those who understand neurology and biology, I realized that that which defines us is our brain activity. Nothing more. Thus, nothing “survives” death. To believe otherwise has no evidence to support it. Trust me, I’d prefer the notion that some part of us survives death. The evidence doesn’t demonstrate that.

      >Trust only your minds, and be limited by the common things all physical humanity is likewise limited to.

      I don’t trust my mind. Trusting my mind led me to believe bullshit like the notion of a soul. I trust the evidence because it is testable and the results are reproducible. To suggest limits to humanity is arrogant presumption. It’s basically saying that your assumptions of reality are superior to what science demonstrates, but since you have no evidence to back up your assumptions, they’re nothing but hogwash.

      >As for your claim of absence of religion… hogwash.

      I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. I wish you’d been more specific.

      >There is absolutely no difference between your organizations belief system and any other religious system on this earth.

      My organization’s belief system? What organization? What are you talking about?

      >It shares all the same ear marks, including the human need to discredit those who do not believe as you do.

      I’m gonna ignore your assertion that some organization is involved here to point out that it’s not a human need to discredit, but rather hold those who make absolute claims of reality accountable for those claims.

      Do you honestly hold respect for belief in Zeus, Thor, or Ra? If not, why not? If you hold no respect or belief in those, how is that not the need to discredit those who do not believe as you do as you’ve cited with me?

      I honestly don’t give a shit if people want to believe unsubstantiated bullshit. I mean, yes, it bothers me that they’re willing to devote their lives to made-up crap, but it’s no concern of mine. It only bothers me when they attempt, often successfully, to influence my and other’s lives due to that made-up crap.

      >I find no such need, and neither do those in any religion who have discovered their spiritual awareness

      Maybe you feel no need, but you obviously do hold beliefs that are incompatible with others’. How do you feel about others’ beliefs? Do you consider them as valid as yours? if not, why not?

      I don’t know what you mean by “spiritual awareness.”

      >because we now understand the spiritual nature of our beings,

      What do you mean by “spiritual nature of our beings”?

      >and how that is above and beyond the merely physical, temporary state we now appear in.

      How do you know any of this to be true? You come on here, you lob accusations at me and yet, true to form of the average theist and apologist, you offer no evidence at all other than “I believe this because I believe this.” So why don’t you believe in Thor? In reincarnation? In the Force?

      I’ll tell you why. Because there’s no evidence. If you were honest, you’d admit that.

      Best,

      Anton.

  2. “I don’t trust my mind. Trusting my mind led me to believe bullshit like the notion of a soul. I trust the evidence because it is testable and the results are reproducible.”

    What trustworthy thing are you using to evaluate, process and understand the evidence? If it’s your mind you’re using — which, you’ve admitted you don’t trust — then you can’t trust it to provide you with a reliable assessment of the evidence, nor to draw trustworthy conclusions from said evidence.

    Which brings me to the question: Why am I, or anyone else, wasting their time reading a blog created by someone who admits they are entirely incapable of producing any ideas, opinions or thoughts that are trustworthy? Indeed, why are you wasting your time writing a blog full of admittedly untrustworthy information?

    • You seem to be making the false conclusion that evidence and any conclusions derived of it are dependent, partly or wholly, on the mind and its perception of the evidence. This isn’t the case. A dropped ball drops whether my mind is somehow engaged in the dropping or not. If I see it drop, it drops. If I don’t see it drop, it still drops.

      You may have also misinterpreted what I meant, though it’s hard to say since that was so long ago. He said, “Trust only your minds, and be limited by common things all physical humanity is likewise limited to,” which seemed to mean that if we use reason, we’ll miss out on “spirituality,” whatever the hell that means. My point was that not only do I not trust his assertions, but I don’t solely trust my mind as doing so (without external confirmation) has led to believing bullshit.

      For example, if I think I see a ghost, I may, on some level, be sure of it (in my mind), but I know that any immediate desire for there to be a ghost (and thus confirmation of life after death) shouldn’t be immediately trusted without further evidence. Thus, even though my mind perceives a ghost, I shouldn’t rely solely on my mind as a means by which to determine whether there really is a ghost.

      There are all kinds of means by which to assess evidence. Rulers, microscopes, measuring cups. None of these is dependent on my mind for the evidence to be measured or processed. I think, however, you’re leaning towards solipsism which might say that even my perception of the measuring cup can’t be trusted (by my reasoning) because ultimately, the perception even of the measuring cup’s measurement occurs in my mind. And yes, I’d be forced to agree with that except that a measuring cup’s measurements can also be externally verified through other means and people’s perceptions, not just my own.

      The problem with solipsism is it demands that we start with zero assumptions (including that our minds even perceive) which is almost impossible (and isn’t solipsism self-defeating? Isn’t what it says about reality ultimately an non-confirmable construct of the mind?). Now, you may counter that if we’re going to start with some assumptions, how are those determined and why not start with whatever assumptions we want? To that I’d say start with a minimum and attempt to verify those. The theistic problem arises when one starts with non-confirmable assertions beyond the minimum. For example, I have to assume that I exist. It’s challenging to prove it to myself beyond blindly assuming that I do. It’s a bit of an infinite regression. But since we’re having this interaction, it seems, on a basic level, that my existence is a safe assumption to make. Why not leap to an assumption of a god? Because the number of assumptions needed to reconcile the assertions made of most god concepts begins to leap ahead beyond the possibility of confirmation. It’s a non-minimal assumption.

      As to whether I can draw trustworthy conclusions, I’m not sure you’re granting enough weight to how the mind works and granting too much weight to the same. As humans, we’re constantly faced with, say, patterns. We’re hardwired to perceive them as doing such has an evolutionary advantage. On the one hand, perceiving the pattern of, I don’t know, green grass in a pasture tells us that there’s a reliable water source in the top soil (which allows the grass to grow). At the same time, the same pattern-seeking instinct leads us to believe the universe was designed because “it looks designed.” The difference between the two previous examples is in the first one, there’s at least one means by which to determine the reality of a reliable water source (the color of the grass, the presence of moisture in the top soil) whereas in the second example, there isn’t. Thus, while the mind perceives both situations, the first can be corroborated, not the second.

      As to why you’re wasting your time reading this site, I can’t answer that, except to suggest that you seem to enjoy making snarky comments to strangers in an attempt to catch them in “gotcha” moments. And in fact, I don’t think I ever said anywhere that I’m incapable of producing ideas, opinions, or thoughts that are trustworthy. I was talking about the unreliability of trusting the mind alone. The only reason I maintain this site is to add a voice to the atheist community. I’ve succeeded in doing that. The rest is icing.

  3. “A dropped ball drops whether my mind is somehow engaged in the dropping or not. If I see it drop, it drops. If I don’t see it drop, it still drops.” — How do you know? What, other than your mind (which is untrustworthy) tells you that?

    The fact of the matter is, your assertion, as it was written, is logically self-defeating. If your mind is wholly untrustworthy you can’t trust it to tell you ANYTHING about what the ball actually is or isn’t doing at any time nor under any circumstances whatsoever. ANY information you have about the ball that was processed in any part by your mind must necessarily be suspect. If it wasn’t, then your mind wouldn’t be wholly untrustworthy.

    You seem, in your further response, to clarify your intended meaning by basically saying that your mind is trustworthy when it comes to some things and untrustworthy when it comes to others. Which is fine — certainly much better than the original statement. But, I’d ask then what the specific criteria is that determines the trustworthy from the untrustworthy aspect of your mental functioning. How, specifically, do you know when/whether your mind is engaging in some of its trustworthy functioning or untrustworthy functioning?

    • I just re-read my words and I didn’t say my mind is “wholly” untrustworthy. But I understand what you’re getting at and I already covered that point including a concession that I’d have to agree with you exept that evidence/measurements can be independently verified outside of my perception.

      Actually, I think I’d have to go more towards what you were saying before. Let’s just asy that the mind is entirely untrustworthy. Within that, however, there do seem to be tendencies. As to your question, I’m not sure and I’m not sure that it’s even possible to delineate these tendencies.

      Let’s go with something really mundane. I wake up from a dream. How do I know I’ve woken up? Probably the easiest thing to notice is that reality maintains a certain consistency that it doesn’t in dreams. The laws of physics, timelines, current statuses of relationships, major institutions, all of that maintains consistency despite any efforts on my part. As in, when I’m awake, if I walk into a police station and shoot someone, the law will play out as predicted. I’ll be arrested, tried, convicted, and jailed. In a dream, if I see myself (assuming a non-lucid dream) walk into a police station, any number of things could happen. If I shoot someone, he may not die, I may not be arrested, the whole building might turn into a giant, chocolate doughnut. There will be nothing upon which I can rely to be predictable and consistent independent of me.

      What I think I was going for above is that some things tend to be more mundance and some things tend to be more extraordinary. Given that there is no evidence for ghosts to exist, if I were to see one, that would be an extraordinary event. Given the lack of evidence for ghosts, this would lead me to believe that my assumed perception of one was false.

      But let’s go where you keep going. All of reality is a construct in a holodeck and I’m the only human experiencing it. Okay. So what? There’s nothing I can say about any of that. Back to those base assumptions and their measurable consistency independent of my mind.

      Does that cover everything? I wrote this hastily and I can’t be sure. Let me know if not.

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