04 July 2007

The soul is untenable

Having long settled the issues of the origin of life and the evolution of mankind, science has now reached the point of challenging the last and greatest illusion: the "divine spark":

But as evolutionary biologists and cognitive neuroscientists peer ever deeper into the brain, they are discovering more and more genes, brain structures and other physical correlates to feelings like empathy, disgust and joy. That is, they are discovering physical bases for the feelings from which moral sense emerges - not just in people but in other animals as well.

The idea that human minds are the product of evolution is "unassailable fact," the journal Nature said this month in an editorial on new findings on the physical basis of moral thought. A headline on the editorial drove the point home: "With all deference to the sensibilities of religious people, the idea that man was created in the image of God can surely be put aside."

Or, as V. S. Ramachandran, a brain scientist at the University of California, San Diego, put it in an interview, there may be soul in the sense of "the universal spirit of the cosmos," but the soul as it is usually spoken of, "an immaterial spirit that occupies individual brains and that only evolved in humans - all that is complete nonsense." Belief in that kind of soul "is basically superstition," he said.

Found via this excellent posting at Black Sun Journal:

Religions will have to choose between accommodating the undeniable facts of human nature or becoming marginalized. Being the adaptive memes that they are, expect many if not all religions to eventually come around as a matter of survival. Then they will have to move their philosophical goalposts and find some other area of ‘mystery’ which can remain safely off-limits to physical or materialistic explanations.

Or we could just forget the whole silly concept and start living in the real world.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

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06 June, 2011 01:38  

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