[extropy-chat] Angel Snot was Near Death Experiences: ascientific approach

Technotranscendence neptune at superlink.net
Wed Feb 25 15:01:22 UTC 2004

On Wednesday, February 25, 2004 3:23 AM Tom's name Here
the_spoon_maker at hotmail.com wrote:
> So there is a difference between asleep and
> awake. Waking and falling asleep are both
> processes (the former being a very quick
> one). I erred in saying the line between
> awake and asleep is clear.

That's the admission I was looking for.:)

> The *difference* between the two
> states is clear.

You could say that about death, so this chucks out your application of
this division to dying as a means of refuting the belief in a soul that
leaves the body on death.

> The line, I would say, is when the anti-sleepwalking
> mechanism kicks in, or when stimuli
> stop entering the attention. However I have
> a nagging feeling even this two "lines" too
> are gradient processes with no clear "on"
> or "off" states.
> If it is biological, if probably doesn't happen
> all at once.

See above.  This negates you using this as an argument to support your
contention about souls leaving the body on death.

>><...> or [the soul] could leave slowly, pulling
>> out. If the latter, then that death does not >
>> come immediately would not be evidence
>> against there being a soul.
> If the soul leaves the body, it has to be going
> someplace. I don't think the soul is divisible
> (its not physical) so it would fade in/out in its
> entirety.

That would be a point to be empirically investigated.  Those who believe
in the soul tend to talk about it as a unitary entity, but that doesn't
mean that a) they're right or b) that even if it were unitary it might
not slip in an out slowly.  On the latter, imagine you have a cat that
moves on and off your lap.  Were you to sit, say, on a scale during this
process, you might notice that when the cat moves between these two
states -- being on your lap vs. being, say, on the floor -- that the
mass registered by the chair does not change discontinuously from being
at your mass alone to being the mass of you and the cat.  The cat might,
e.g., put two paws on you and that would increase the mass, then pull
more of its body on it to, further increasing the mass, then finally
come to rest on your lap, perhaps causing the scale to oscillate a
little before settling down to your combined masses.  Would you then
think the cat was not a unified being?

You can't just make assumptions to prove your case, then say, "Aha, it
doesn't fit my assumptions, therefore, I'm right!  I'm right!":)

> If it were fading around in its entirety that would
> mean it would exist (to some extent) in both
> destinations at once. That would mean that
> people that have started to die have part of
> their soul in the spirit world (or whatever
> afterlife we're talking about) while they're still
> alive. The key here would be to define "started
> to die". Drowning in water starts you dying, but
> many people are revived and don't talk of
> feeling like part of their soul is missing, or
> "lesser" by some extent. Also it seems like
> existing on both planes at once would violate
> some cosmic law. Which planar soul would
> have the consciousness? If the consciousness
> were bound to the physical-world soul, what
> would be controlling the afterlife soul?

Again, you're tying more assumptions to the idea to refute it.  The
basic hypotheses were:

1.  The soul has mass.
2.  The soul leaves the body on death.

Where it goes after death is of no importance to proving hypothesis 2.
(1 and 2 are used to prove the general notion that there is a soul to
begin with.:)  It could just leave the body, just as, say, gases leave
the body.  (Just because the gases take time to leave the body on death
does not mean they don't exist.:)  Adding further hypotheses or
assumptions and then refuting them does not refute the original

Let me use an analogy.  Let's say that in order to refute Newton's Three
Laws of Motion, I add in that all mass must wear blue tee shirts in
order to move.  I point out that the a particular mass being used in an
experiment to confirm or refute Newton's law is not covered with a blue
tee shirt, so, ergo, Newton's Laws are illogical and must be rejected.
You would, I trust, say that my added assumption is arbitrary and has
nothing to do with Newton's Laws.

>> Now [the soul] could leave very quickly,
>> perhaps even instantaneously [.] it
>> could always be that the soul leaves the
>> body after it reaches a point of not return
> This is a much more cosmos-friendly
> assumption. The point at which a person
> cannot return to life could take many places.
> Of course, in order for one to be unable to
> return to life, they must be dead. Thus we
> revert back to the "death is not a specific,
> end-all be-all state".

Whoa!  You're making it sound like I denied that assumption.  I was
merely stating, for the record, that your refutation of the soul
hypothesis (let's call it that for shorthand) was not actually sound.
You were merely stacking the deck in favor of your view as opposed to
trying to figure out what is the correct view.

> Some could argue that the soul leaves at the
> instant nothing can be done from preventing
> death. Were this the case, souls would leave
> before the person died, presenting us with
> bodies without minds. A coma patient would
> be an example, but it would also mean people
> would be alive and moving around when their
> souls left, and would continue to move around.
> Zombies, anyone?

This is all speculation on how someone might argue -- not on what is the
case.  Were there souls, maybe they could move back into the body.
Maybe they only leave once there's a truly irrecoverable death.  Of
course, the simplest explanation for the data I see -- since the
McDougall claims have not be substantiated -- is that there are no

> Chance exists: I've heard before about
> a man who wanted to commit suicide.
> Whether its true or not is irrelevant. He
> swallowed a cyanide capsule, put a
> gun to his mouth and hung himself over
> a cliff above the ocean. At this point, his
> soul would certainly leave,  seeing as
> he swallowed the pill. The story goes he
> pulled the trigger and activated whatever
> device he used to hang himself. The
> bullet goes through his head and cuts
> the rope and he plunges down into the
> cold sea, which causes him to regurgitate
> the pill, and he lives. If he is alive, he
> needs his soul, so it couldn't have left.
> If the soul stayed because it knew the
> person would live after all, it indicates
> the soul can predict the result of chance,
> which is impossible.

What?  What has this got to do with anything?  Are you drunk or high?:)

If the soul leaves via a physical process -- if that statement makes
sense:) -- then what does its choice or predictive abilities have to do
with it?  The thing to do to find evidence would be to explore that
process by which it leaves -- not make up assumptions or ridiculous
scenarios merely to reinforce your prejudices.

> Chance does not exist (Scientific determinism):
> This is unwieldy since sci.det. would say the
> soul would leave as soon as it entered the
> body, because no matter what happens,
> the person will die when they die; nothing
> can prevent it. Of course, I don't know of
> any scientific determinists that believe in
> the soul J.

To find out what is the case, you would do better not to look for people
who believed in it, but see if the ideas are logically inconsistent.  I
can see two possible views for people who believe in souls vis-a-vis

s1.  Determinism is true AND there are souls.
s2.  Determinism is NOT true AND there are souls.

Is that hard to imagine?  Neither determinism or its denial refutes the
soul hypothesis.

>> I mean one could imagine the soul sticks
>> around until every last cell is gone.
> Don't some cells remain alive long after
> clinical death? Hair and fingernails come
> to mind, although I've heard their growing
> is only an illusion of dehydration. I don't
> know which to believe, they both sound
> feasible.

I don't know.  I'm only trying to find out what is the case here as well
as point out faulty arguments -- not dismiss the idea because I don't
happen to believe it myself.

This applies to much of your other points.  To not believe in souls is
better based on there being no unambiguous evidence for their
existence -- as opposed to pointing to all manner of silly notions that
you or others might associate with souls.  I mean I could say that some
people who believe in life on other planets also believe that angels
visit them and that chickens actually speak a form of bastardized Latin.
Does that mean that there's no life on other planets?:)



More information about the extropy-chat mailing list