[ExI] Weighing the Soul

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Sun Sep 23 19:52:26 UTC 2018

On 23 September 2018 at 17:32, William Flynn Wallace wrote:
> There is no information unless it is stored, right?  In our brains that
> means physical changes occur when information is stored, and potentially it
> can be studied scientifically.
> When a PC stores information it changes the positive/negative aspects of the
> hard drive (tape, whatever), and so is a physical thing, able to be measured
> and dealt with scientifically.
> Soul, you say, is nonphysical, in contradiction to Descartes and some others
> and will never be measured or part of science.  So why don't we quit using
> it?  If you can't define it, if you can't measure, it simply does not exist
> to a physical monist like me, and so is just nonsense, like magic,
> witchcraft and many others that have mostly passed into history.
> And it just feels wrong for atheists (naturalists) to talk about souls as if
> they exist in some way.  The only way they exist is in the beliefs of some
> people, and that is certainly no proof of the existence of anything.

Depends on what you mean by 'soul'.   :)

Our Western philosophy started with Judaism in the Old Testament and
continued in the Christian New Testament.
This period had a more primitive philosophy where 'soul' just meant
something that had the breath of life. This included animals as well
as humans.
Hebrew nephesh and Greek psyche. The Greek word psyche was used with
the same meaning as the Hebrew nephesh.
That 'soul' died when the body died.

The term 'spirit' is also used in the Bible, Hebrew rûach and the
Greek equivalent pneuma. These are used with a similar meaning,
referring to the life force within a body. But this also died when the
body died.

>From about Plato onwards, Greek dualism began to influence Western
thought, where the 'mind' or 'soul' is considered like an immortal
being from the spirit world temporarily inhabiting a human body. This
is very different from the Biblical version, but has strongly
influenced later Christian theology.

To be clear, the concept of an immortal 'soul' surviving the body is
not found in the Bible. That's why Christians need resurrection.  :)

To quote Wikipedia:
In Patristic thought, towards the end of the 2nd century, psūchê had
begun to be understood in a more Greek than a Hebrew way, contrasted
with the body. By the 3rd century, with the influence of Origen, the
traditions of the inherent immortality of the soul and its divine
nature were established. As the new Encyclopædia Britannica points
out: “The early Christian philosophers adopted the Greek concept of
the soul’s immortality and thought of the soul as being created by God
and infused into the body at conception.

So which 'soul' do you prefer?


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