TED Conversations

David Roemer

This conversation is closed.

Evolution only applies to the bodies of humans, not their souls. Natural selection only explains the adaptation of species.

The science of biology includes the metaphysical concepts of form (soul) and matter (body) because it is necessary to exclude free will and other functions of the human mind from evolutionary biology. Materialists think that the soul is just an idea, but religious people think the human soul is spiritual.

Many laymen think that natural selection explains common descent, but PhDs in biology know the limits of Darwinism. In my narrated YouTube video/slideshow (“The Truth About Evolution and Religion” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKaF8vX6HXQ) I give quotes from peer-reviewed articles to prove my point.

Share:
  • thumb
    Jan 8 2012: Let's just think a second: I woke up this morning with pain in my shoulders, a very heavy feeling. It is up to me to decide what to do with this day; stay home, have a bad mood and get to complain about anything not being right, ect ... or get some little gymnastic to release the extra pound of energy that caused the congestion in my body and feel free to benefit from this sunday sunshine.
    What I want to illustrate here is that we are intelligent creatures, with self decision power to turn things right or wrong according to our societal values. Whether we believe in God or not, whether religions are right or wrong, one thing has its own truth revealed everyday: "Positive thinking".
    It has a good influence in your own life and the life around you. Negative thinking has a very bad result on us and on society.
    That's what matters. If we do not do it for the others, the minimum we can do is to do it for ourself. No matter the direction we give to that positive thinking, the result is always good for everyone.
    As of today, no one has ever proven that there is no life after the grave... what we know is that the physical body spoils and is consumed in the earth, but about that vital energy that make the whole thing function, it's still a mystery for scientists that do not account it to be something transcendantal.
    I am from the Ivory coast, and i have had the opportunity to help in a relief program that I launched during the civil war we went through 8 months ago. I have carried so much bodies to burry or to burn that I have started getting clues to the mystery of body and soul. You could see and feel these bodies, still warm, the flesh sometimes bleeding or shaking by reflexe, but not anymore inhabited by the soul. The same guy, in all his physical dimensions, but no more power, why? the source of power is off.
    Out of the tens we carried to the small infirmary of our neighborhood, I see many looking at me today with the eyes full of gratitude. That matters HERE and NOW!
    • thumb
      Jan 8 2012: I have my reasons for believing in life-after-death, and I am summoning you to believe. It is not a demand. Faith is both a decision and a gift from God.
      • thumb
        Jan 8 2012: You are summoning him to believe?

        Believe in what?
      • thumb
        Jan 8 2012: Dear David,
        It appears that this whole discussion is about you "summoning" others to believe what you choose to believe. You are absolutely right...faith is a decision. So, how about respecting other people's decisions to believe what they choose, rather than trying to convince everyone that your decision is "right" for everyone. You are trying to promote your own belief on this thread, and it isn't really very appealing.
        • thumb
          Jan 8 2012: Colleen

          Hi and Happy New Year to you

          .I agree. Thank for saying this so clearly. TED is a place for conversation not for proselytizing . It's very difficult to have meaningful conversation when particpants are speaking from a locked in ideological point of view..nothing grows or gets exchanged.

          David, I have to say I don't really understand proselytizing at all. I don't uderstand what it is that calls people to summon or convert others in matter sof religious belie (or disbelief). I would be very interested to listen to to why you feel called to summon others to what you have found tha serves you , apparently.

          I am a life long advocate so persuasion of others has always been part of my life..perusading regulators that banks are affected with a public interest, persuading governement that housing for low income people should reflect values of dignity and inclusion, I vigorously support a 28th amendment to fill the gap Citizen's United came to exists from. And I suppose all my advocacy in a way also speaks from a personal ideology. So its not that I think persuasion is an unworthy human enndeavor

          .To me though proselytizing religion or the urge to convert others to our belief systems is a very different thing. I sense that what you are trying to do is share the reconciliation of science and religion that has brought you comfort and insight, perhaps in much the same way that I do my work of advocacy but I do also see and feel a little uncomfortable about this element Coleen is pointing to

          .May I ask, why you brought this to the TED community?. What do you hope will happen through this conversation?

          Peace
        • thumb
          Jan 8 2012: Dear Colleen and Lindsey,
          The idea I submitted for discussion is not about religion, but about evolutionary biology. I want to explain why God exists, so that people can decide whether or not God has communicated himself to mankind. Evangelization means persuading people God has done this.

          The first step to understanding why God exists is to understand that the human soul is not just an idea, but is spiritual and real. A preliminary step is to understand that evolutionary biology only applies to the bodies of humans, not their souls.
      • thumb
        Jan 8 2012: David,
        It appears that this whole discussion is about you "summoning" others to believe what you choose to believe. You are absolutely right...faith is a decision. So, how about respecting other people's decisions to believe what they choose, rather than trying to convince everyone that your decision is "right" for everyone. You are trying to promote your own belief on this thread, and it isn't really very appealing.
      • thumb
        Jan 9 2012: QUOTE: "The idea I submitted for discussion is not about religion, but about evolutionary biology. I want to explain why God exists, so that people can decide whether or not God has communicated himself to mankind."

        Hi David,

        This is the deception in your presentation. It is sometimes called "The Bait and Switch." Let's start by talking about "evolutionary biology" and then switch to "explaining why God exists."

        Discussing the soul, and God, in terms of evolutionary is not particularly valid.

        It's like talking about baking cake in terms of astrology.

        Evolutionary biology has nothing to say about the "soul." And nothing to say about God.

        And by the way, this is your point - or, at least, one of them:

        "I want to explain why God exists... Evangelization means persuading people ... The first step to understanding why God exists is to understand that the human soul is not just an idea, but is spiritual and real. A preliminary step is to understand that evolutionary biology only applies to the bodies of humans, not their souls."

        And your point is based on many assumptions none of which you can prove ... first and foremost you cannot prove God exists, or that humans have a soul, let alone that evolutionary biology only applies to bodies.

        However, I expect most, if not all, evolutionary biologists would agree that their subject has nothing to say about the soul.

        I expect your major "point" is to "summon" people to believe.

        Again, this is not really the forum for that.
    • thumb
      Jan 8 2012: Dear Ousmane,

      What a beautiful life affirming compassionate expression.

      Thank you so much.
  • thumb
    Jan 7 2012: I like the idea that I may be, as Teilhard de Chardin said, a spiritual being in a human body

    I like the idea that in my next "occupation" of a human body I will have learned and grown and that I will do better next time.

    I like the idea of thinking that this "occupation" of a now frail and aging human body has been an opportunity to grow and develop that eternal spirtual being in service to humanity and that next tme around I may be able to make my human "occupation" more useful to humanity and to earth because of what I have added to the maturity of my spiritual being this time around.

    Liking these ideas without any proof or certainty about what really is or how it really works creates an order and purpose for my life that helps me to witness and stand in solidarity with.those who suffer at the extremes of injustice and disease and to find joy and meaning in every moment of my "occupation" of this human body.

    I love how the great wisdom master Leonard Cohe expresses it in his baeutiful song "The Window"

    Bless the continuous stutter of the Word being made into flesh..
    • thumb
      Jan 7 2012: I think you're a spirit in a human body, a spirit that has come a long way already.
      Teilhard I like and for Leonard I've never listened to the words of his songs. Thank's for the tip.
      • thumb
        Jan 7 2012: Frans,

        You are too kind.

        May the New Year be very kind toyou in evry way, in every moment.

        Lindsay
    • thumb
      Jan 7 2012: QUOTE: "I like the idea that I may be, as Teilhard de Chardin said, a spiritual being in a human body

      I like the idea that in my next "occupation" of a human body I will have learned and grown and that I will do better next time."

      This is clear communication: You like the idea ... whatever the idea is.

      You'll get no argument from me. You are the expert on what you like.

      With many things that's as close as we can get. We like it or we don't like it.
      • thumb
        Jan 7 2012: happy new year thomas..may 2012 be very very kind to you.

        yes

        we like it or we don't like it

        but its really for me not needing any proof or "hard evdidence" on soul or spirit or aftrelife or recurring lives or God or any of it

        For me it's really more about having a "workable program".a "lens" that helps me live a life that is meaningful to me in the here and now moment by moment.; that helps me navigate in reliable and satisfactory ways.
        • thumb
          Jan 8 2012: Hi Lindsay,

          Happy New Year to you too.

          You say, "its really for me not needing any proof or "hard evdidence" on soul or spirit or aftrelife or recurring lives or God or any of it ... it's really more about having a "workable program".a "lens" that helps me live a life that is meaningful to me..."

          Fair enough.

          I think that is, more or less, what we all do. Some of us use programs based on "this," some on "that," but we all tend to find something we can accept and feel comfortable with.

          As I mentioned in my reply to Magnus, I hold open the possibility that virtually anything COULD be true.

          If there is a possibility that we might "know" (actually know) something, I believe we should pursue that possibility. I do not think we should "settle" for explanations.

          But that's just what I have accepted as my workable program.

          Some of us seem to be happy with explanations.

          Who am I to disagree?
      • thumb
        Jan 8 2012: Thomas,

        I also have as one of my "operating principles" allowing for the possibility that anything is possible. It think it is a good practice spiritually and intellectually. Keeps us from getting frozen inside rigid belief systems or rigid intellectual constructs. Keeps us humble to accept how little we do or can know of possibility. We miss a lot when we don't allow for the possibility that anything is possible.I don't offer encounter anyone else who "gets that" let alone employs it

        .How nice!!!
        • thumb
          Jan 10 2012: It's funny but nearly everything wonderful you attribute to a spiritual existence I see through a non spiritual lens and find perhaps just as uplifting and meaningful.

          Seems there are many paths to the same wonder and appreciation, emotions etc.
      • thumb
        Jan 10 2012: G.M,

        Yes, and thanks for that.

        There are indeed many paths to the same wonder, appreciation, emotions even sense of purpose that never refer to "spiritual", "soul" "God", "faith" .

        It is not reference to these things that counts but what you actually do with your life that counts..how you serve life, how you serve earth, including through the arts

        There are many millions serving humanity and earth in compassion and stewardship who never use these words or find value or guidance in them in support of their work.

        I stand with those who choose to be alive and to serve life. It is in the compay of those I prefer to be.

        I stand with you, and in the good company of thousands of years of wisdom traditions, that say as you have said here, there are many paths to the same wisdom., to the same turth, to fulfillment.

        What the world needs is what lights you up.

        A few months back on TED I hosted a conversation on belief systems, the point of which was exactly what you have spoken here.

        We are each personally responsible for good housekeeping of our belief systems and should really avoid trying to interfere with or direct the content of someone else's.
  • thumb
    Jan 5 2012: Would you know you had a soul if someone didn't tell you that it existed? I am not a biologist, a physicist, or a religious expert, I am a human. I believe that we need something greater than ourselves to believe in so that we can feel that we aren't alone. I believe in God, but would I think there was God if I wasn't told there is a God?

    As humans have evolved and experienced being over the course of history we have developed beyond our survival instincts into complex individuals. People first discovered they were cold before they discovered they must warm themselves. We learned to make fire for heat. We learned to dress and feed ourselves. I imagine that the first humans would be less concerned with mental pursuits and seeking the meaning in the term soul. We marvel at animals abilities to walk and stand from the first hours they were born, but couldn't that have been us in the beginning? Survival first.

    As humans grew more complex they began to have ideas beyond themselves, this in itself is evolution. The physical evolution of matter into different forms is one theory, but the infinite possiblities of the evolution of conscienceness is entirely different. We benefit from the education of each previous generation all the way back to the beginning. The world we are born into provides us with more in the first few months than some generations ever learned.

    Animals are developing as well. They do not have a speech pattern that we can recognize and translate, but they know information and migratory patterns from the beginning of their life. They learn and experience and change. Do they have souls and we don't know it?

    Our bodies are changing as we are evolving, as our minds decide what we need and don't need. We are amazing creatures in on an amazing planet. Leave a little mystery concerning the soul whether it is an idea born of history or a gift from the Almighty, it doesn't matter. What matters is what you do with it.
    • thumb
      Jan 10 2012: Thanks for sharing. Agree in the end how we live our life may be more important than knowing the truth about everything - but it's fun trying figure it out.
  • Jan 10 2012: Sorry David, but your "topic" and your comments are nonsensical. (No nice way to say so.)

    All you do is make unfounded assertions. Example your title:
    1. "Evolution" and "natural selection" are not one and the same. Natural selection is one of the mechanisms of evolution, but that's not the whole story. (There's is nothing "unnatural" in the mix, by the way.)
    2. What's a soul? If by soul you mean some spiritual thing, then you would have to prove first that there's one. Evolution is a natural process (or the result of a bunch of natural processes).

    Then your intro:
    1. Nope, biology does not include "souls" anywhere.
    2. "Form" is not "soul." Come on.
    3. Why would it be necessary to exclude free-will? I am a biologist, and I was never given any instruction that I should exclude free-will in my studies. The only caveat to including free-will, is that you have to define it, and better if you define it in an approachable way. Nor have I ever encountered any prohibition to study the functions of the human mind. Actually, there's a lot of research, for example at the molecular level, about the function of the human mind. So you are talking about things you know nothing about.
    4. Of course we know that "Darwinist" processes are not enough to explain evolution. Darwin's proposal was natural selection, but there's other natural processes at play (yes, they suffice to "explain common descent"). Again, you mistake natural selection for evolution, but, that there's other processes involved does not mean that thus there is a spirit, nor that we need anything "unnatural" to explain anything in biology.

    After reading a few of your posts I noticed that you have quite a biased and self-righteous attitude about "materialists" and "biologists." None of them based on reality I'm afraid. Seems like you are equivocating evolution and natural selection, among other themes, to support your religious inclinations.
  • thumb
    Jan 7 2012: I'm a biologist (and a PhD). What is a soul? I've never seen one or seen any evidence that we have one. I'm pretty sure that dead people have influence - e.g. Socrates, Darwin, Jesus, Mohammed but when you are dead, you are dead.

    What is free will? Organisms (such as we are) move through life being faced with choices. What they choose is infuenced by their internal state, the options available, advice from, or actions of, those around them and societal norms. Christianity is just one big norm, one of many that influence the way in which people behave. Christianity is a product of humanity and the codes of behaviour that it espouses are common to many other civilizations across the world.

    There are no gods, no life after death and no such thing as a soul. Get over it and get on with your wonderful life.
    • thumb
      Jan 7 2012: Body (matter) and soul (form) are correlative metaphysical principles that explain why humans are equal to each other, but superior to animals.

      Free will can't be defined. It is not a scientific concept. We know we have free will because we can make ourselves the subject of our own knowledge. Hence, humans are embodied spirits and the human soul is spiritual.

      Humans are also finite beings because other humans exist. Finite beings need a cause. If every being in the universe needed a cause, the universe would not be intelligible. Hence, an infinite being exists. In the West, we call the infinite being God.
      • thumb
        Jan 7 2012: . . and so it starts. Step 1) We are superior to animals because of some fairy-tale and a book of stories chosen by politicians a long time ago. Step 2) We (theists) are superior to other people who don't think like we do or believe in our fairy tales. Step 3) Righteous war (or Jihad).

        If it can't be defined to all intents and purposes, it doesn't exist. Science is the fundamental language of explanation of facts. You like to think you have free will. You have options. The last sentence isn't a logical progression. The problem is that science is hard and that when you use it to define concepts such as love or beauty you have to go back to first principles (it gets a bit boring if you try to do that for everything - our cultural shorthand for these things is easier). I love Bach and Leo Kottke but while I'm aware that there will be a scientific explanation, I don't feel the need to delve that deep. I'm happy just to sit back and enjoy the music.

        Your cause is to survive and reproduce. The rest of paragraph three is gobbledegook. My advice, not based on any fairy tales - give your kids a good start in life and be nice to people so that your kids have a chance of growing up in a nice world.


        George Carlin has a great take on this stuff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o
      • thumb
        Jan 7 2012: Wow, so animals don't have souls and you feel your superior to a non-discrimatory, non-egoic animal ,like a dolphin or an amoeba or that squirrel outside your window shaking his head....
        • thumb
          Jan 11 2012: Do animals or humans have free will? I guess there has been plenty written on the former.

          At the outset I would suggest free will (or not) in no way implies there are souls or spirits (or not). Although there are perhaps some contradictions with religious type beliefs if there is not free will.
          :
          Humans make apparently conscious choices at a practical level. Are they predetermined. If we had a great enough understanding of the brain, biology, physics, chemistry, behaviour, psychology etc could we predict every decision and action an individual would make. Perhaps. But this may require understanding every relevant experience a person has had that has shaped their brain or consciousness and unconsciousness involved in the decision, their current state etc. These experiences may involve other conscious beings. Suggest we are a long way from being able to identify and predict every conscious and unconscious action/decision.

          We can already make gross predictions. Mock a prophet - predict a response.

          On a simple human scale I make choices and have practical free will. It really doesn't matter that much to me if which enough knowledge down to a quantum level my decisions are predictable.

          If we photocopied the universe as it is today a 1000 times, would the human copies all make the same choices? Would the physical environment, every blade of grass, every atom, every electron, every subatomic particle or string, be exactly the same in a years time in every copy?

          I don't know but at a quantum level, chaos and all that make me lean towards divergence.

          Suggest there is a continuum of animal free will. A single cell organism is probably incapable of making conscious decisions and choices. But suggest different individual dogs of the same species will make different decisions in the same situation, again dependent in part of their experience and current state etc.

          Of course our brain/intellect opens up more choices to us. A wider world of free choice
      • thumb
        Jan 10 2012: Metaphysics looks like the remnants of a pre scientific time to me.

        My opinion, we are animals, just with a more developed brain than the others on this planet, no such thing as a soul or spirit. When our brain stops working and our body dies, no more consciousness, no more us, oblivion, just like other animals.

        Suggest if we somehow had only current scientific and no left over religious concepts floating around society from our more ignorant past we wouldn't develop such widely held belief in immortal, non matter, non energy, spirits.

        Agree, that no one knows anything for sure on this topic but souls/spirits, just in humans, seems more speculative than a biological approach.

        David, if they did exist, how would you know that souls don't evolve. Without relying on a particular religious dogma, how do you know the soul creator didn't create the first souls and all the others are derivative with a soul DNA.

        Suggest some belief systems indicate souls can learn and develop in repeating carnations. How do you know the some souls aren't living many times.

        Are the souls sitting around in a waiting room waiting for our birth or do they come into being on conception. Do souls only exist while we live or do they go on.

        How do you know we have souls. How do you know other animals don't. How do you know how souls work other than fitting your metaphysical world view.

        Curious where/how you think the concept of souls originated? I mean we can see our bodies, play around and understand our our brains work, emotions, personality, perceptions etc. We can detect energy. Again the whole concept of a soul and most of metaphysics seems to relate back to old belief systems developed in relative ignorance and never with any evidence. A whole framework related to imaginary concepts that can not be proven, measured etc just ideas.
        • thumb
          Jan 10 2012: I wouldn't call Dave's proposals metaphysics anymore than I would call any tinkering physics.
        • thumb
          Jan 10 2012: Do animals have free will? If yes, how do you know? If no, what is free will? Rational people judge that we have free will because of three bits of evidence:
          1) It is clear we have it when we do something that takes a lot of will power, like sticking to a diet.
          2) People who say it is an illusion, live their lives as if they had free will.
          3) People who say it is an illusion have poor reasoning skills. They are like a person who is collecting minerals and arranging them according to their color. He builds a chest of drawers and labels the drawers one of the colors of the rainbow. He puts a red mineral in the red drawer, the green mineral in the green drawer, etc. One day he finds a white mineral, and he says, "White minerals don't exist."
    • Jan 7 2012: Magnus, " I'm a biologist (and a PhD). What is a soul?" Your degrees are proof of knowledge, not wisdom..

      The soul is the psyche. The mind. It can be seen as the electromagnetic field; it has been seen as the aura and photographed via Kirlian methods. Though it is not tangible, you experience it nonetheless. Emotions aren't tangible, yet we experience them, do we not?
      • thumb
        Jan 7 2012: I'm not sure that letters before or after your name prove anything except (in the case of a Phd) perhaps tenacity - I was merely making a point in response to Davids initial note.

        You contradict yourself Ethan - you tell me that we can see the electromagnetic field of the brain and then tell me its not tangible. Is the soul an electromagnetic field then? Can we detect how much of a sinner someone is using a magnet? Could be useful at airports I guess.

        Emotions are tangible - biochemically and made obvious via our bodily and facial expressions. Guilt for example is a chemical response to deviation from a norm.

        Using your implicit definition of tangible, a vacuum is not tangible (nor an electron, proton, atom etc) but we can prove its existence using science. If anyone proves the existence of some all powerful deity that gives a jot about humanity using logic and science I'll start saving for an asbestos coffin.
      • thumb
        Jan 7 2012: QUOTE: "The soul is the psyche."

        The etymology may coincide but, in common parlance, the soul and the psyche are no longer considered the same thing. Of course, they CAN mean the same thing but often do not.

        The psyche refers to the mind (conscious and unconscious) and the soul has come to mean that part of a being, human or not, that would be "immaterial" and is often considered to be eternal.
        • Jan 10 2012: The soul is the psyche.

          Common parlance be damned.
      • thumb
        Jan 10 2012: QUOTE: "The soul is the psyche."

        As long as you clarify your terms.

        I suppose it depends on how precise you need your communication to be.

        I know that when I use the word "psyche" I am not referring to the soul.
      • Comment deleted

      • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Jan 7 2012: Hi Magnus,

      You say, "There are no gods, no life after death and no such thing as a soul. Get over it and get on with your wonderful life."

      There is no way you can know what happens after we die, unless you have died and come back [this is exactly what I say to people who say there is life after death.]

      We cannot prove there is no God.

      Nor can we prove there is no soul.

      I'm not quite sure why we tend to "need" certainty. The religious/spiritual/metaphysical folks, for the most part, think they know there is life after death. They don't.

      Rationalist, in large part, think they know there is no life after death. They don't.

      You also say, "If it can't be defined to all intents and purposes, it doesn't exist." This is not valid. There are things that cannot be defined and yet exist; and there are things that can be defined and do not exist.

      Does consciousness exist? Can it be defined?

      Does a thought exist?

      God and soul have both been defined. Do they exist?

      Why is it we have such a hard time saying, "I don't know?"

      This is good advise: "Get over it and get on with your wonderful life."
      • thumb
        Jan 7 2012: Hi Thomas,

        I completely agree, "Why do we have such a problem with ""I don't know"" . Trying to explain "I don't knows" with mythology is what irritates me.

        I watched our living-room fire go out tonight, while my wife and I chatted. It went out. The fire is dead. Do you have a problem understanding that? So why have a problem with an organism dying? Chemically, its a pretty similar process.

        cheers and peace, Magnus
        • thumb
          Jan 8 2012: QUOTE: "Trying to explain "I don't knows" with mythology is what irritates me."

          Hi Magnus,

          It irritates me too. Maybe "irritates" is too strong a word but, for example, I do tend to respond to assertions that the Bible is inerrant, or that we know what happens after we die, and so on.

          I have no problem when people say they believe this or that; but when they say this or that is absolutely true, then I often take exception and challenge the belief.

          When it comes to the "I don't knows" ... I accept anything as at least possible. Even the "weird stuff" like the possibility I could walk through a wall.

          It IS possible (according to the laws of quantum mechanics) but the probability of it happening is so remote that to have any real chance of it happening once, we would have to wait for much, much longer than the universe has existed.

          So is it possible there is something that survives death?

          Sure.

          Does anyone know?

          It's possible. But extremely unlikely.

          When questioned, anyone I have ever asked has ultimately said they believe they know. However, some have elevated their belief to the realm of "knowing."

          They might base their belief on a near death experience, or on some interpretation of religious doctrine, or on remembered past lives, and so on.

          There are much better, and more plausible, explanations for all of these than having to postulate a life after death.

          But, no matter ...

          We simply do not know one way or the other.

          [Unless we do, and as I have said, I hold that open as a possibility too.]

          Cheers.
  • thumb
    Jan 12 2012: David, our brains and body's are one when it comes to our perception of who we are or what the universe may be.
    Evolution over great periods of time does meld both.
    if you seek both or one of them, ask as i do , what can i do in my life while I exist to make a contribution generations unborn when i know longer exist?
    EDIT
    make a contribution to culture, do not make a fool or doubt science as you do.
  • Jan 9 2012: Happy New Year, Ousmane.

    I agree with you entirele.

    Alex.
  • thumb
    Jan 9 2012: I have gone through most of the comments, and what I can say afterall is: "let's all convain that we are alive, sharing this piece of planet which is earth, live a life of loving kindness, in respect of all differences, in defense of justice and human rights to happiness. Let's work on proposing items that can better up our lives no matter what continent we are from." Whether God exist or not, does not give us the permission to forget that this life at least is ours, whether it be reality or illusion.

    Happy new year to everyone.
  • Jan 9 2012: A lot to talk about and clarify, with not enough time or space. It is unfair to try and convince anyone that one or another religious belief is the right path. Our responsibility is to assist individuals to thrive in their beliefs as long as they are not clearly harmful to others and themselves. If someone finds god sitting by a pond watching a log floating, then that's their answer and we should be thrilled at their success. If Catholicism or Buddhism is the answer for others, than we must respect that as well. Ausmane makes some very good points, but perhaps his most important one is the here and now of this marvelous equation that continually seems to elude us as we wonder what there is or might be in the after life. It really is about the collective good of all of us, in fact, all of us sharing this discussion during which it seems that tempers have risen needlessly. There is enormous power in our words. These words affect feelings, and cast shadows on our belief systems that we have no right to intrude upon. If there is one thing i would like to leave all of you with is the following: compassion is key to our survival especially in this modern, rapid world where we hardly notice the suffering of others. This is an interesting but not so compassionate a conversation based on some of the tones. There's a lot to learn from each other here. Let's listen.
    • thumb
      Jan 9 2012: Hi Alexander,

      You might be mistaking clear, direct and unequivocal communication as "needlessly risen tempers."

      I tend to be quite blunt in my communication. I am not angry.

      I do not get the sense anyone else is angry either.

      QUOTE: "Our responsibility is to assist individuals to thrive in their beliefs as long as they are not clearly harmful to others and themselves."

      Actually, that is not "our" responsibility. You may have chosen it as your responsibility. Which is fine.

      QUOTE: "There is enormous power in our words."

      I agree and I choose mine very carefully. And I know many other TEDsters who are quite disciplined in their communication.

      QUOTE: "These words affect feelings, and cast shadows on our belief systems that we have no right to intrude upon."

      I do not think anyone cast a shadow on David's belief system.

      On his motives in posting here? Yes, definitely and appropriately.

      This is not the forum for such an endeavor. (I'm not sure but I think proselytising is prohibited on TED forums.)
    • thumb
      Jan 10 2012: Alexander, appreciate your sensitivity towards possible offense from this type of debate. However, religions are not off limits for discussion, analysis and debate in a modern secular state.
      Not our responsibility to help someone thrive in their chosen belief system if we think it is bunk.

      On the other hand, I support a secular state with religious freedom (within reasonable limits) and freedom from religion if that is what people choose.

      Also, a wise person weighs up freedom of speech for a particular opinion against the likely reaction and results.

      I haven't seen anything that crosses the line as being unreasonably offensive. Some blunt comments - sure. Some passionate. Offense is in the eye of the beholder I guess. Suggest anyone who strongly holds religious beliefs and is likely to be offended from this type of debate is not open to other views or has not been exposed and appropriately densensitised.

      I learn and develop my world view by reading these comments and responding but expect most people aren't going to be convinced to suddenly change religion or become an atheist from these discussions.

      While may own comments may vigorously debate an issue I recognise some people, smarter than me have considered and reflected more on life, the universe, more than I. Others less so, but I hope I don't mock them when I challenge. Every year my world view has refined and hopefully improved. It's a journey, even for a religious believer.

      My ideal would be debate in good spirit and an openness to be challenged and perhaps made a little uncomfortable - recognising on some subjects all comments are just opinion, no one knows for sure, although some opinions fit what we know about the world better than others.
  • thumb
    Jan 8 2012: Hi David,

    Having spent some time trying to understand your point, it appears you are a Catholic religious zealot who thinks Catholic philosophers are right, atheists (and presumably non-Catholic philosophers, and most scientists) are wrong, and that you are on some sort of a mission "summoning" others to believe what you believe.

    I have asked you if you are promoting Christian spiritualism, what your point is, and so on. Rather than simply answer the questions directly you ignore them and, if you choose to answer, obfuscate with poorly thought out arguments against "atheists" and veiled (and equally poorly thought out) invitations to accept your understanding of Catholic philosophy.

    I find your approach to be dishonest and inappropriate.

    I suggest this is not the forum for such proselytising.
  • thumb
    Jan 8 2012: I have faith in God and I am having my understanding of its manifestation through number everything coming to existence. i am not putting in doubt His existence; but in a world where cultures are clashing, it is good to make people understand that their particular belief in a religion should not be a brake to the Higher understanding of the value of life. And life is just about what we do in every little moment of our days. Any single decision we make about ourselves is having a tremendous consequence on the way the world is running, as of the butterfly effect.
  • Jan 7 2012: Listened to a minute of that YouTube and determined it to be what granny used to refer to as "hogwash".

    Observance of life proves two things: 1. EVERYTHING evolves and 2. EVERYTHING devolves. The principle of manefested (material/observable) life is based upon the energy which sustains it. If matter evolves, it is because the energy which sustains it evolves, as matter is the reflection and manifestation of energy.

    Where there is matter, there is energy. The entire premise of physical evolution is based in spiritual evolution as the principles of such are defined in the process of reincarnation. This is the evolutionary process of spirit aka the energy system which sustains matter.

    You don't get to separate energy from matter by claiming one evolves and the other does not. It's as flawed a premise as claiming evolution exists but not devolution.

    Getting quotes and peer-reviewed articles may salve your ego into thinking your point has been proven, but all it proves is that ignorance of this topic is not contained to yourself.
  • thumb
    Jan 12 2012: Somebody from TED sent me a private email questioning whether I have a PhD from New York University. I was able to dig up some proof. My work is mentioned in an errata: Phys. Rev. Lett. 24, 1035 (1970), and 25, 782 (E) (1970).
  • thumb
    Jan 12 2012: According to science, evolution applies only to the bodies of humans--not their souls. The human soul is spiritual because free will and conscious knowledge can't be defined.

    Saying you want to contribute to mankind has no value or meaning. We have to decide how to contribute to society. By being a missionary? By making money and giving it to charity? By raising a family?
    • thumb
      Jan 12 2012: QUOTE: "According to science, evolution applies only to the bodies of humans--not their souls."

      According to science; or according to David Roemer?

      Generally speaking "science" does not have anything to say about the soul, or God, because they are not subject to testing.

      So to say "according to science, evolution applies only to the bodies of humans--not their souls" is the mental equivalent of prestidigitation. It tacitly infers scientific validity to the concept of soul when, in fact, "science," and many (most?) scientists, would relegate the soul to the realm of phantasy.

      This is another example of what I mean when I say you are being deceptive.
    • thumb
      Jan 12 2012: Scientists can't do research on a word that has no description like the word soul.

      If you replace human beings with the word souls you get the situation that souls are doing science. Biology on souls would be a bit like fire that burns fire which is nonsense.

      Being a missionary isn't contributing to society, it's an ego play. Some missionaries are doing good things but to do good things you don't have to be a missionary. Missionaries have distorted many cultures and by doing that brought much misery in the world.
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Jan 12 2012: Why do you only want to talk about science? Why don’t you want to talk about free will?

        Body and soul are concepts that go together in a method of inquiry called metaphysics. The soul is the principle that makes humans equal to each other, and the body is the principle that makes humans different from each other. Angels don’t have souls because every angel is unique.

        Atheistic scientists think the soul is just an idea. There is considerable amount of evidence that the human soul is spiritual. A lot of people mistakenly think the soul is a substance, not a metaphysical principle.
        • thumb
          Jan 12 2012: Why do we want to talk about science?

          Probably because you started a conversation that links science to some unscientific and erroneous claims.

          For example, you say: "The science of biology includes the metaphysical concepts of form (soul) and matter (body) because it is necessary to exclude free will and other functions of the human mind from evolutionary biology."

          Biology does not include metaphysical concepts*; and it is not necessary to exclude "free will" and other functions of the human mind from evolutionary biology. Nor is it necessary to include them.

          Your assertions are absurd.

          If you would like to talk about "free will," open a conversation on free will.

          But if you make such ridiculous claims and base them on an almost complete misrepresentation of science, you can expect the conversation to be about science.

          ---
          * Of course, there are always the "fringe" elements - the exceptions that "prove the rule." Rupert Sheldrake's morphic resonance would probably qualify as metaphysical.
    • thumb
      Jan 12 2012: Quote: "Do animals have free will?"

      Yes they have, as far as they are self conscious. The same with little children.
      And with free will I understand the ability to be free to choose or decide in behavior or action.
      Maybe it could be that you refer to self consciousness with the word soul?
      • thumb
        Jan 12 2012: You may be thinking of a scientific definition of self-consciousness which involves recognizing oneself in a mirror. Animals can do this and so can children.

        Consider knowing that this screen is white. It means more than that light is entering the eye and a signal is going into the brain. It means an awareness of this. What is this awareness?

        The important question is: What is awareness? Of secondary importance is whether or not animals have it. Since animals don’t have human speech, no animal has ever said it has this awareness.

        In the case of free will, the question humans ask is: What is the relationship between myself and my body?

        There are no answers to these questions and there is no reason to expect any answer in the future because they are not scientific questions. This means humans are indefinabilities that become conscious of their own existence. Another way of saying this is that humans are embodied spirits or spirited bodies.

        The metaphysical concepts of the soul (form) and body (matter) explain the contradiction that humans are equal to one another (soul), but at the same time different from one another (body). Combining the two ideas gives the insight that the human soul is spiritual.
        • thumb
          Jan 12 2012: These are some answers on your questions.

          To recognize yourself you need to have a sense of self which can only be with an understanding of the other. This discrimination between self and other is necessary to communicate. Birds communicate in simple ways while any social living animal has extensive forms of communication. Communication always is established via language of all kinds. If the sense of self is extended with mental images of the body the mirror test is positive. Self consciousness we share with all organisms though various with form and in expression. The spoken language also starts with primates that has made a spurt with human beings.

          Awareness thus we share also with every organism that in various ways become aware of signals that have a species specific meaning derived from experiences made by the long line of ancestors.

          Free will depends on reflection that is not reserved to humans but is accelerated by the development of wordy language by which all phenomena are labeled and archived in memory that reveals an order in time. By this our species can anticipate future events and react forehand.

          I would love to speak about soul and spirit but my notion hereof is a bit more abstract and demands another context. That’s why I said that any jargon belongs to its domain and can’t be used across different domains.
  • thumb
    Jan 11 2012: Where did you get the idea that natural selection "explain common descent and the complexity of animals."? I'll tell you: You got it either from atheists or advocates of intelligent design. You did not get it from reading a biology textbook.

    This is explained in my video. My video has quotes from biology textbooks and scholarly works about evolution.
    • Jan 11 2012: I got the idea that natural processes, among them natural selection, explain those things from understanding the science. Whatever I have read from "Intelligent Design" advocates has been faeces (as in "excrement").

      Your video is a boring diatribe with no scholarly value whatsoever. You quote from at least one "intelligent design advocate" by the way (and at least one of their books, which are not "scholarly works"). Again. Science does not work by quotes. Study man. Study and reason.
  • Jan 11 2012: Guys,

    I am off this conversation. David seems to lack the very basic rational skills necessary for at least understanding what he's being told. Sorry David, but you go all over the place with non sequiturs and a display of plain ignorance and irrationality that makes it impossible to give you a single comment and get a straight answer from you [EDIT: or at least an answer showing that you understood what we said]. Thus my conclusion.

    Best and adieu.
    • thumb
      Jan 12 2012: See ya.

      If my interest was only biology (or religion) I would probably follow but I am fascinated by people.
  • thumb
    Jan 11 2012: No, it is not. What I am asking for is a quotation from a biology textbook or peer-reviewed journals which says that natural selection explains the complexity of mammals. I gave quotes in my YouTube video which proves that no biologist will say such a thing.

    You have been deceived by popular writers about evolution.
    • thumb
      Jan 11 2012: QUOTE: "You have been deceived by popular writers about evolution."

      Do you mean Darwin?

      ---

      You really are out of your depth Mr Roemer. You might want to consider a tactical retreat.
      • thumb
        Jan 11 2012: No, not Darwin. Darwin admitted, more or less, that natural selection couldn't explain the complexity of the human eye.
        • Jan 11 2012: No, he didn't. I double dare you to go and find the quote (I know you have a quote) within the book (The Origin of Species), and see what Darwin wrote just after that quote. He started by saying that "common sense" would tell you that evolution by steps would not make something like the eye, "However, if we found a series of ..." (Note and double note that there is a "however", meaning that there's evidence to think that the complex eye could have been built by evolutionary processes as he was proposing, regardless of what common sense, without the evidence, would indicate.)

          Go check it. No cheating allowed.
        • thumb
          Jan 12 2012: QUOTE: "Darwin admitted, more or less, that natural selection couldn't explain the complexity of the human eye."

          Hi David,

          To follow on from Gabo's reply: No, Darwin did not.

          And as I have said, you are not qualified to discuss biology ... well, not with any credibility. We can ALL discuss it.

          [For one, you seem to think "natural selection" and "evolution" are synonyms. They are not.]

          You keep asking for quotes from text books or peer-reviewed journals which say "that natural selection explains the complexity of mammals."

          Why?

          [I have one from a reputable source: "Natural processes, among them natural selection, explain common descent and the complexity of mammals." - Gabo Moreno]

          And you counter claims made in biology with (alleged) statements made by "Catholic Philosophers." [Although, you have provided no quotes or references.]

          Perhaps you might provide us with a few examples of peer-reviewed sources that assert the soul is in fact "real" and that it is spiritual in nature.

          As "rational people" seem to know this to be true, you should have no problem coming up with sources from reputable, secular scientists.

          Will you need a little time or do you have them on file?

          ---

          And, by the way (again) one reason you MIGHT have a hard time finding quotes asserting natural selection is responsible for the complexity of mammals is it is not the kind of statement a "real" biologist would casually make as a categorical statement. For expediency, in conversation? Sure. In a text book or a peer-reviewed journal, it is somewhat less likely ... but not unheard of. Do you know why? [See Gabo Moreno's reply for starters.]

          ---
          And as an example of what I refer to as your poor logic: even if evolution is replaced by a better explanation (it could happen) it will still not prove that there is a soul and that it is spiritual. The topics are not related.

          If there is a soul and it is spiritual, prove it. And you cannot prove that by proving or disproving evolution.
    • Jan 11 2012: Let me get this straight. Instead of a quote I give you a full book presenting the idea of natural selection as a way for explaining common descent (the origin of species) and you change the request now for a quote for something saying that natural selection explains mammalian complexity? How precise do you want those quotes to be?

      Anyway, I think you don't read what people write to you. I told you that you mistake evolution and natural selection, and thus misrepresent them. Natural selection is one of the mechanisms of evolution. One of them. It alone would not explain anything if we had, for example, nothing to select from. Thus variation within populations is another factor in evolution. I insist, that there is more than just natural selection does not work to your agenda because we know that natural processes suffice to explain common descent. I repeat:

      Natural processes, among them natural selection, explain common descent and the complexity of mammals.

      There, you have your quote above. Yes, I am a biologist. Enough for you?

      Science, by the way, does not work by quotes, science works by data, data analyses, experiments, and their proper interpretation. I repeat, you have to first understand what evolution is, then talk about it.

      I understand evolution because I have studied from both, books by evolutionary biologists (Darwin among them), and scientific articles. If you want to know what being deceived about evolution means, look at the mirror. You are the one mistaking natural selection for evolution. You are the one mistaking the existence of other natural processes in evolution as an argument for your religion.

      (Just in case you were wondering, I am not GM.)
  • thumb
    Jan 11 2012: GM, what atheists don't understand is the mind-body problem. They have a blind spot. To understand the mind-body problem means understanding four solutions or theories. Atheists only grasp two solutions: materialism and dualism. There is no evidence for either of them. What is the solution judged to be true by Catholic philosophers?
    • thumb
      Jan 11 2012: David,

      Why do you insist on telling us what atheists do not understand.

      You quite clearly do not know what they understand or what they do not understand. You are, in this regard ignorant and yet you present yourself as an authority. I request that you stop speaking on behalf of atheists. Your tendency to speak on behalf of a group of people you know so little about is offensive. (And, for the record, I am not an atheist.)

      You are obviously not qualified to discuss evolution.

      Your arguments are puerile. They can be summarized as:

      Catholics are right and everyone else is wrong. If you do not understand this, you are ignorant, do not understand, have a blind spot, or you have been deceived. And I have quotes to prove it.

      ---

      You would like a quote from a biology textbook that "says that natural selection explains the complexity of mammals."

      Why?

      Can you not find one? Would you "believe it" if you did?

      Perhaps you might follow Mr Moreno's suggestion and read Darwin's "Origin of Species."

      The opening section of Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene" is also very illuminating.

      You might read them and you can select your own quotes.

      ---

      And, by the way, "natural selection" does not, in itself, explain the complexity of mammals. Evolution does. Natural selection is simply one medium whereby evolution operates. There are other processes employed by evolution. Do you know what they are?
  • thumb
    Jan 10 2012: My quotes are from Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, authors of biology textbooks, and books published by major publishers in the US.

    I remember challenging a PhD in biology to come up with quote saying that natural selection explained evolution. He did, but there was no attribution. He admitted that he made the quote up. I'd like to see the quotes and told who said them and where I can check that the quotes are valid.
    • thumb
      Jan 10 2012: QUOTE: "I remember challenging a PhD in biology to come up with quote saying that natural selection explained evolution."

      You certainly have "a thing" about quotes.

      You challenged a PhD in biology to come up with a quote. And he or she did but made no attribution?

      David, he or she has a PhD in biology. He or she IS the attribution.

      However, you seem to think natural selection is necessary to explain evolution. It isn't. It just happens to explain evolution. Very well.

      Could there be other explanations for evolution?

      Sure.

      Will you need quotes?
      • Jan 10 2012: Thomas,

        "David, he or she has a PhD in biology. He or she IS the attribution."

        Well played, sir. Well played.

        David,
        Congratulations on what looks like your first TED conversation. I have not made my first one yet, but when I do I hope to generate half the interest you have. Though I do not feel compelled to hop in this particular debate, I am sure we will debate at some point in the future here on TED. Until then, welcome and good luck.

        SEP
    • Jan 10 2012: I think that David needs to clearly say what he means by evolution and what he means by natural selection, because, when Darwin published his book, the "revelation" to the scientific community was actually that natural selection explained evolution perhaps too well. You need no quotes, this is history of science 101. The power of natural selection to explain the changes we see, and to give us that connection among extant species through common ancestors is huge. So huge that scientists were inclined to think, for a long time, that that was the whole of the story (of course, given a, by then, unexplained source of background natural variation in populations). Until we started finding other natural mechanisms and the role of population dynamics in how evolution happens.

      EDIT: If David insists on a quote I would suggest him to read The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. The whole book is about explaining evolution by natural selection. Is that enough of a quote David?
  • thumb
    Jan 10 2012: GM, Rational people judge that the human soul is spiritual. Irrational people think the human soul is just an idea to explain why humans are considered a different category of being than animals. I consider the matter settled.

    One of the reasons I believe in the Bible is that people who don't believe in the Bible don't agree that the human soul is spiritual. They have bad judgement.
    • thumb
      Jan 10 2012: David,
      The topic of this discussion, as you have labeled it is:
      "Evolution only applies to the bodies of humans, not their souls. Natural selection only explains the adaptation of species".

      Your most recent comment above is:
      "One of the reasons I believe in the Bible is that people who don't believe in the Bible don't agree that the human soul is spiritual. They have bad judgement".

      Basically, what you are saying is that everyone who does not believe as you do has "bad judgement".
      Are you on topic? Are you facilitating a discussion? Or are you promoting your own beliefs?
      • thumb
        Jan 10 2012: I'm sure it was a response to a comment someone else made.

        That humans have souls is part of evolutionary biology. It is an idea that separates humans from animals. Evolutionary biology doesn't consider free will, for example

        That the soul is spiritual is a metaphysical truth, not a scientific truth. It is also a judgment that rational people make. It is not a matter of belief. Belief and faith are positive responses to revelation.
        • thumb
          Jan 10 2012: Yes, of course David...it was a response to GM. That is clear.

          I ask the questions again...
          Are you on topic? Are you facilitating a discussion? Or are you promoting your own beliefs?

          It seems pretty clear that you believe everyone else but you has "bad judgement", and you "consider the matter settled". So, there is nothing to discuss!!!
      • thumb
        Jan 10 2012: Yes, I am facilitating the discussion. It is a purely scientific question about evolutionary biology. You learn biology by reading biology textbooks and peer reviewed articles. You don't learn about it by reading advocates of intelligent design and atheists.
        1) Natural selection only explains adaptation. The response should have been: Of course. Or, gee I had no idea. Or, one could quote from a biology textbook to refute this.

        2) Likewise, that evolution only applies to the bodies of humans is something of a truism.

        The responses I have been getting have been off the target, and have been false. I'm not going to say: Off target. I'm going to explain why the statements are false.
        • thumb
          Jan 10 2012: David
          You say..." The response should have been: Of course. Or, gee I had no idea. Or, one could quote from a biology textbook to refute this".

          You must be joking!!!!!! You start a conversation, and say this is what the responses "should" be...David....really....look at your own words!!!!

          You say..."the responses you "have been getting have been off the target, and have been false". No David, the responses you are getting are RIGHT ON target.......listen:>)
    • thumb
      Jan 10 2012: QUOTE: "Rational people judge that the human soul is spiritual. Irrational people think the human soul is just an idea to explain why humans are considered a different category of being than animals. I consider the matter settled."


      Well, it's comforting to know that David Roemer considers the matter settled.

      You don't think some "rational people" might simply acknowledge they do not know?

      If I ask you what the soul is, you will likely tell me you know. And then you will (likely) offer a definition or a description you have read in a book - assuming that constitutes proof. Perhaps an immaterial and eternal spirit that will reside in heaven or hell forever. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)

      David, you're saying: You believe in spirits and people who agree with you, are rational; and people who do not, are not.

      This, I suggest, is a mild to moderate case of hubris.


      QUOTE: "One of the reasons I believe in the Bible is that people who don't believe in the Bible don't agree that the human soul is spiritual. They have bad judgement."

      Your logic is fallacious: One of the reasons you believe is because people who don't believe in the Bible don't agree that the human soul is spiritual?

      THEY have bad judgement?

      Some people don't believe in the Bible and they do agree the human soul is spiritual.

      Some people who do believe in the Bible do not agree the soul is spiritual (really!)

      And so on.

      You have a theme: They don't know this. They don't believe that. They have bad judgement. They cannot comprehend. They are irrational. They are unaware. They can not grasp.

      David, I am challenging you. (You)

      At what point did you conclude you were smarter than all of the rest of us who, apparently, have bad judgement, do not believe, cannot comprehend, and so on?

      When did you become the arbiter of when a matter is settled and when it is not?

      ---

      Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven - Luke 6:37
    • thumb
      Jan 11 2012: David, we'll probably just end up disagreeing on this one since we are coming from polar opposite directions and no apparent common ground.

      I would suggest there are plenty of people who have given rational consideration to souls etc and have come up with different conclusions to you.

      I don't understand why you can't accept that I can grasp enough about the idea of embodied spirits, the holy trinity etc but still reject it.That is a mystery to me. Do you believe if we comprehend it "properly' it will be so obviously the truth we will accept it automatically.

      While no expert I studied some anthropology at uni and have read quite a bit and don't recall anything stating a a spiritual soul linked to evolutionary biology. I understand plenty of theists have accepted physical evolution but still believe in souls, gods etc.

      My understanding from a non religious, scientific, evolutionary perspective is it is our brains, helped by our body (hands etc), that make us different to other animals and allowed us to unleash language, writing, the passing on of knowledge, invention, conceptualisation of past present and future, philiosphy, literature, art, ideas, science and technology etc. Impressive, just like the size of the universe or complexity the atom even if it is natural and non spiritual. No need for a spiritual soul. There could be, but not necessary. But we are still a mix of instinct and reason.

      Not sure you believe in evolution, that we have a common ancestor with the other great apes about 8 million years ago. That homo sapiens have been around 100k+ years or so but share a common heritage with all vertebrae. If you do then I don't know how you fit this with you non evolutionary soul.
  • thumb
    Jan 10 2012: GM, I can show you a number of quotes from people who only grasp materialism or dualism. They are unaware of or can't grasp the idea that humans are embodied spirits. It is a difficult theory to understand because it is paradoxical. It means we know something because we don't know it.

    It also leads to God's existence, which is another reason they have a blind spot on this topic.
    • thumb
      Jan 10 2012: David,

      You keep telling us what other people are unaware of, what they don't know. etc. And then you tell us that because they are "unaware," as you put it, of certain assumptions that YOU believe to be true, they can't grasp this or that.

      Your assertions are not that difficult to grasp.

      What you seem to be unable to comprehend is that many people do grasp your assumptions, they understand them, and they reject them.

      And, I might add, if you believe in God and you require some convoluted theory to "prove" God's existence, or to prove to others, God exists, you simply do not "know" God. You believe. And when it comes to things we do not know, belief is often confused for certainty.

      You believe a bunch of stuff - as is evident in your posts. You assume you know - as is also evident in your posts. You appear to believe if others do not believe what you believe, it is because they fail to understand what you understand. Again, you do not seem to comprehend that many can, and do understand what you understand but have the intellectual integrity to NOT elevate their beliefs to the realm of "universal truth."

      Believing is not knowing.

      For example, scientist do not "know" if superstrings exist. They have a (very) convoluted explanation that might lead one to conclude superstrings do exist (or do not exist, depending on your point of view) but they cannot, and do not say they "know."

      Similarly, with the Higgs Boson.

      The difference is that we might expect to find evidence for the Higgs Boson but, at this time, we have no reasonable expectation that we will ever find evidence of a superstring.

      Your "blind spot" is you assume your assumptions and beliefs are universally true. You assume they are true based on logic and your logic is not that good.

      Your theory is not at all difficult to understand, it has been promulgated for centuries by whole rafts of people - not all of whom were that bright.

      I get it. You believe God exists. You think your idea proves it.
    • thumb
      Jan 10 2012: QUOTE: "...I can show you a number of quotes from people who only grasp materialism or dualism."

      So?

      I can show you quotes from people who believe the earth is 6000 years old (one of my favourites.)

      I can show you quotes from people who know we will be reincarnated as a bug or a saint (depending on karma, of course.)

      I can show you quotes from people who believe in the "unity of opposites."

      I can show you quotes from people who believe their religious faith is universally true and that if other people do not believe in it too, it's because they are just not that smart.

      I can even show you quotes from people who "know" we do not exist.

      That you can show us quotes is not particularly meaningful.

      Quotes or no quotes, your argument is simple: You believe God exists. You think your idea proves it.
  • thumb
    Jan 10 2012: Thank you for the support.

    The cause of the origin of the universe 13.7 billion years ago, the start of life, and the complexity of life are unsolved, but solvable, scientific questions. An unsolvable mystery is: What is a human being? It is these two sets of questions, considered together, that leads to the knowledge that an infinite being exists.
    • thumb
      Jan 10 2012: QUOTE: "An unsolvable mystery is: What is a human being?"

      This is an example of what I mean when I say your "logic is not that good."

      Who says what a human being is is an "unsolvable mystery?"

      It is not an unsolvable mystery. It is not even a mystery.
  • thumb
    Jan 10 2012: Hi David

    I think I'm basically with you. I agree we are embodied souls. I agree Natural selection only explains the adaption of Species. ie it needs something to select from, it doesn't appear to initiate novel design.

    In your excellent U-Tube you talk of evolution from simple to complex. If you deny the role of natural selection in the design of new, more complex, creatures, then what mechanism do you postulate ? Or have I missed something?

    Your position gives us all something to have a go at you over. Well done, great topic!

    :-)
  • thumb
    Jan 8 2012: Hi Thomas,

    Catholic philosophers say that the human mind is an unsolvable mystery. Atheists say that the human mind might be understandable at some point in the future with more scientific research.

    I am making two points: 1) The atheists are being irrational because there is no evidence supporting their judgment. All the evidence supports the Catholic judgment. 2) Atheists don’t even understand the theory that the human mind is a mystery. It is too paradoxical for them. It means you know something because you don’t know it.
    • thumb
      Jan 8 2012: Hi David,

      Again, you seem to feel qualified to speak for a whole class of people, in this case, atheists.

      Catholic philosophers say a whole lot of things, not all of them are valid and they are by no means, necessarily, experts on the mind.

      Simply because they say the mind is an unsolvable mystery does not make it so.

      Also there are a good many theists, and perhaps one or two Catholic philosophers, who say that the human mind might be understandable at some point in the future with more scientific research. There are some who say we understand it now whether they be theists or not.

      That you, and some some Catholic philosophers do not understand says something about you and Catholic philosophers not anyone else.

      Some theists and some atheists probably say it is an unsolvable mystery too.

      I find your arguments arbitrary and somewhat simplistic.

      Simple, I like. Simplistic, not so much.

      After my last post to you I checked your profile. It seems I was correct, you are essentially promoting a form of Christian spiritualism.

      QUOTE: "I am making two points: 1) The atheists are being irrational because there is no evidence supporting their judgment. All the evidence supports the Catholic judgment."

      No, sir, this is not correct. Not even close.

      QUOTE: "Atheists don’t even understand the theory that the human mind is a mystery. It is too paradoxical for them. It means you know something because you don’t know it."

      This is essentially a nonsensical statement. You do not know what "atheists" understand and what they do not understand. Not all of them. That you, or a few Catholic philosophers, do not understand a thing does not imply it is actually a mystery. It simply means you do not understand it. It may well be a mystery only to you.

      Fair enough.

      You, clearly, are not qualified to speak on behalf of "atheists."

      Instead of telling us what they do not understand, why not tell us what you understand. The atheists, I'm sure, are able to speak on their own behalf.
      • thumb
        Jan 8 2012: I am not making statements about atheists and Catholics. I am describing two points of view and labeling them Catholic and atheist.

        One point of view is supported by the evidence, the other is not.

        I can show you many quotes from atheists who do not even understand that there are more possibilities than materialism and dualism. To atheists, the idea that humans are embodied spirits is dualism. If you know any atheists who know better, I'd like to know who they are. Certainly not the famous ones: Dawkins, Dennett, Karen Armstrong, etc. etc.
        • thumb
          Jan 8 2012: So your point is: Catholics are right and atheists are wrong.

          Is that it?

          ---

          QUOTE: "I am not making statements about atheists and Catholics."

          Yes you are. In virtually every post you say what atheists believe and talk about what Catholic philosophers say.

          Then you assert that the Catholic point of view is supported by evidence and the atheists' view is not. (Which is clearly not accurate.)

          You are speaking about "abstractions" (mind, soul, and so on.) In some respect, these things cannot be "proven" so there is effectively no "evidence" one way or the other.

          That you choose to accept the assertions of Catholic philosophers and reject the the assertions of atheist philosophers does not elevate the former to the rank of evidence and demote the later to a state of falsehood. They are both simply opinions about an abstraction.

          However, I would suggest that the "atheists' evidence" is more robust than the Catholics'. Atheists are not constrained by dogma or theology.

          Why do you care whether atheist "know better" or not?

          Do you understand that Dennett, Dawkins and the rest of them (very likely) know more about your philosophical position than you do? (It's their job to know.)

          For you to say they do not understand, is puerile ... and likely wrong. I am certain they understand your point of view. They simply reject it.

          They do not agree with you. That does not make you right and them wrong.

          But aside from all of this: so what?

          Some Catholic philosophers say this; Dennett, Dawkins, et al, say that.

          You agree with the former; you disagree with the latter.

          It still takes twenty minutes to cook rice.
    • thumb
      Jan 10 2012: David, the fact that many people find metaphysical concepts such as the spiritual realm and souls lacking is not always a sign of lack of understanding. In fact the more detail a particular religious or spiritual belief gets the more speculative it gets.

      You seem to have a particular metaphysical or religious viewpoint and dismiss others I assume after due consideration. I just dismiss them all after due consideration and haven't seen anything new in this conversation that would change my mind.
  • thumb
    Jan 8 2012: Hi David,

    I am still not sure what your point is.

    Are you saying you do not think evolution is factual?

    Many of your comments are over-generalizations (see my earlier posts) and some of your comments are simply inaccurate or not relevant.

    For example you say, "The science of biology includes the metaphysical concepts of form (soul) and matter (body) because it is necessary to exclude free will and other functions of the human mind from evolutionary biology."

    The science of biology does not actually include any metaphysical concepts (some biologists might.) And it is not necessary to exclude soul, free will and other functions of the human mind from evolutionary biology; it is simply not necessary to include them. (Evolution COULD have resulted in ANY outcome. It is not necessary to assume sentient beings are the inexorable outcome of evolution, artificial-, sexual-, or natural-selection.*)

    The science of biology does offer some very interesting explanations for faculties that we traditionally think of as "metaphysical" - thinking, transcendence, consciousness, and so on - and by virtue of these explanations brings these esoteric subjects into the realm of the physical.

    Julian Jaynes's "The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind," and various branches of neurophilosophy come to mind.

    Again, I expect you are offering, in a round about way, some form or Christian spiritualism as the quintessential answer to life's mysteries.

    Am I correct?

    ---
    * Of course, "artificial-selection" implies consciousness, or, at least, intent.
  • thumb
    Jan 7 2012: People who say free will is an illusion in philosophical discussions live their lives as if they had free will: the feel guilty, they apologize, and they promise not to do it again.

    We can see the kind of poor reasoning behind the idea that free will doesn’t exist: Consider someone collecting minerals and arranging them according to their color. He builds a chest of drawers and labels the drawers one of the colors of the rainbow. He puts red minerals in the red draw, green minerals in the green drawer, etc. One day he finds a white mineral. He says, “White minerals don’t exist.”
    • thumb
      Jan 7 2012: Or he labels another drawer.

      Maybe he learns to play the piano.

      [Think about it.]
  • thumb
    Jan 7 2012: HAHA! A soul? Hmmm...where in the body is that located?
  • thumb
    Jan 7 2012: This is a quotation that most atheists will agree with. They will regard this quotation, from a biology textbook used by 65%, as an intelligent statement of the mind-body problem. But, the author only understands two explanations for the human mind: materialism (the mind is an illusion) and dualism (there are spiritual substances as well as material substances). There is no evidence for either of these bright ideas. There is more evidence for idealism (the brain is an illusion). Atheists don’t understand the solution that rational people judge to be true: It is a mystery and humans are embodied spirits. This is the quote:

    “And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive.” (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )
    • thumb
      Jan 7 2012: Hi David,

      You say "Atheists don’t understand the solution that rational people judge to be true: It is a mystery and humans are embodied spirits."

      How do you know what atheists understand and do not understand? They may understand "the solution" you propose better than you do (how would know otherwise) and they might reject it.

      When you say "some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind..." I would suggest most people, philosophers or not, are uncomfortable with this view.

      I am still not sure what your point in all of this is.

      What are you trying to say?
      • thumb
        Jan 7 2012: Did you read the quote from Campbell? Do you think Campblell understands the theory that the mind is an unsolvable mystery? Do you think he knows that the evidence supports this theory, and not materialism and dualism?
        • thumb
          Jan 7 2012: I am not talking with Campbell. I am talking with you. And Campbell's quote or not, I am still not sure what your point is.

          You seem to know what you do not agree with (materialism and dualism) and are arguing against them (I think) but I am not sure what you are arguing for.

          Are you trying to say the soul is created perfectly and does not evolve?

          And (assuming this is what you are saying) that natural selection and biology don't have much to say about the soul?

          I think biologists would probably agree with that.

          So?