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jimmydasaint

Can You Come Up With an Experiment to Prove There is a Soul?

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The soul, ego, independent consciousness is a central tenet of most religions. However, Science cannot allow for the belief of an independent consciousness that survives death. If I am correct, the scientific method depends on the senses as the only source of reality.

 

However, to maintain some sense of balance, I think that it is only fair to allow people who are believers in a soul to come up with an experiment.

 

I can only come up with one, as follows, which is a safer alternative to killing the experimental subject:

 

A person, or people, who claim that their consciousness can leave their bodies during sleep, an maintain some vision or hearing, are safely locked in a comfortable room. Cameras are placed in the room and in other rooms around the locked room. Outside the locked room, there is a room with a filing cabinet. On top of the filing cabinet, the researcher places a note with 5 random numbers.

 

The experimental subject is then allowed to sleep and is given the location of the note with the numbers. If the subject can repeat the numbers back on at least 6 different occasions, there is enough 'wierdness' to do further research.

 

Any thoughts...?

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However, Science cannot allow for the belief of an independent consciousness that survives death. If I am correct, the scientific method depends on the senses as the only source of reality.

 

Not actually. Science merely says that an immaterial soul, by virtue of being undectactable, is also untestable, and cannot be evaluated. Science makes so statement about the limitations of senses being necessary since, after all, we constantly design instruments to overcome those limitations (microscopes, electromagentic field detectors, etc.)

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Not actually. Science merely says that an immaterial soul, by virtue of being undectactable, is also untestable, and cannot be evaluated. Science makes so statement about the limitations of senses being necessary since, after all, we constantly design instruments to overcome those limitations (microscopes, electromagentic field detectors, etc.)

 

I agree that the immaterial is untestable. However, is the immaterial then automatically categorised as unreal? The senses still categorise and analyse data from other sources which act like extensions to the senses. For example, an electrophoresis gel or a spectrum analyser still provide an 'image' of reality to the senses. I must state that I believe in God but that I also favour God setting the switch for evolution, so to speak. I am quite open minded in this respect. However, if you see the scenario I proposed Mokele, would you then be prepared to think again about the scientific paradigm?

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However, is the immaterial then automatically categorised as unreal?

 

Nope, merely impossible to evaluate. However, as a result of scientific training, most scientists become skeptical of concepts which lack evidence.

 

Another point worth thinking about: if something does not produce any detectable effects, does its reality even matter at all? Even if it does exist, it may as well not, since it makes no difference at all.

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Nope, merely impossible to evaluate. However, as a result of scientific training, most scientists become skeptical of concepts which lack evidence.

 

Another point worth thinking about: if something does not produce any detectable effects, does its reality even matter at all? Even if it does exist, it may as well not, since it makes no difference at all.

 

If something makes no detectable effects, it is effectively nonexistent.

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If something makes no detectable effects, it is effectively nonexistent.

 

I think this statement is quite strong and should be qualified by the phrase: 'until evidence comes to light.' I think it would be difficult for someone to imagine that there were sub-atomic particles until further evidence came to light.

 

However, it does take me back to the O.P. If this thought experiment could actually be performed, and was successful, would you believe that there was a consciousness independent of the body, or would you believe that there was room for further investigation?

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I think this statement is quite strong and should be qualified by the phrase: 'until evidence comes to light.' I think it would be difficult for someone to imagine that there were sub-atomic particles until further evidence came to light.

 

However, it does take me back to the O.P. If this thought experiment could actually be performed, and was successful, would you believe that there was a consciousness independent of the body, or would you believe that there was room for further investigation?

If evidence came to light, then it would necessarily have detectable effects.

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Why cannt you measure the change in a person after they die but who are then revived?

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Whatever change that can be observed.

If it was measured and found that there's no change, would that prove that a sould does not exist, or that a soul has no detectable presence?

 

If it's the first, then we can start finding experiments done (and there were experiments).

 

If it's the second, the it's not a scientific hypothesis, it's a tautological statement that can never be disproved, much like the invisible pink unicorn, the magnificent invisible elephant and the awesome invisible Sasquatch.

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If it's the second, the it's not a scientific hypothesis, it's a tautological statement that can never be disproved, much like the invisible pink unicorn, the magnificent invisible elephant and the awesome invisible Sasquatch.

 

For the record, Sasquatch is blurry, not invisible.

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Why cannt you measure the change in a person after they die but who are then revived?
Nobody who has died has ever been revived.

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However, it does take me back to the O.P. If this thought experiment could actually be performed, and was successful, would you believe that there was a consciousness independent of the body, or would you believe that there was room for further investigation?

 

There would be room for further investigation. People have phantom pain from limbs that no longer exist. That doesn't mean that pain is independent of the body.

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A person, or people, who claim that their consciousness can leave their bodies during sleep, an maintain some vision or hearing, are safely locked in a comfortable room.

 

But to see, you must absorb photons, and to hear, you must absorb sound waves. But if that is the case, then you should also be able to see and hear a ghost. Unless of course, they re-emit the photons and sound they absorb, or somehow detect them using different physics than we know.

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But to see, you must absorb photons, and to hear, you must absorb sound waves.

Not entirely correct. What is needed is for the neural mechanisms which become activated by photons or sound waves to fire and become active (to send a signal to the processing centers of the brain), and that can be induced artificially with shocks and chemicals and the like. No need for actual photon absorption or sound wave reception...

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I actually recall a funny experiment done with regards to 'Out of body experiences' or 'near death experiences'. A lot happen in hospitals, for obvious reasons, so a surgeon put a huge smiley face on the top of one of the lamps in the OR. Everyone who claimed to have 'looked down on the surgery' somehow missed the giant smiley.

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I actually recall a funny experiment done with regards to 'Out of body experiences' or 'near death experiences'. A lot happen in hospitals, for obvious reasons, so a surgeon put a huge smiley face on the top of one of the lamps in the OR. Everyone who claimed to have 'looked down on the surgery' somehow missed the giant smiley.

 

I take on board some of the points made earlier. However, I think there are people who claim that their consciousness actually leaves their bodies, retaining their senses. All I suggested was a possible experiment to show if this was a realistic phenomenon. However, it is better to do this experiment with methodical and sceptical scientists.

 

I have found this extract but it is a dubious source:

 

Each laboratory night, after the subject was lying in bed, the physiological recordings were running satisfactorily, and she was ready to go to sleep, I went into my office down the hall, opened a table of random numbers at random, threw a coin onto the table as a means of random entry into the page, and copied off the first five digits immediately above where the coin landed.

 

These were copied with a black marking pen, in figures approximately two inches high, onto a small piece of paper. Thus they were quite discrete visually. This five-digit random number constituted the parapsychological target for the evening. I then slipped it into an opaque folder, entered the subject's room, and slipped the piece of paper onto the shelf without at any time exposing it to the subject. This now provided a target which would be clearly visible to anyone whose eyes were located approximately six and a half feet off the floor or higher, but was otherwise not visible to the subject. The subject was instructed to sleep well, to try and have an out-of-body experience, and if she did so to try to wake up immediately afterwards and tell me about it, so I could note on the polygraph records when it had occurred. She was also told that if she floated high enough to read the five-digit number she should memorize it and wake up immediately afterwards to tell me what it was. My conversation with Miss Z after I had prepared the target was, of course, minimal and could not have given her any clue as to the target number.

 

The experimental subject then correctly identified the number.

 

However, the subject could have cheated and could have been coached:

Both Dr. Hastings and I spent some time in the dimly lit room to dark-adapt our eyes, and tried to read a number from the subject's position on the bed, as reflected on the surface of the clock. As the room was dimly lit and the surface of the clock was black plastic, we could not see anything of the number. However, when we shone a flashlight directly on the number (increasing its brightness by a factor somewhere between several hundred and several thousand) we could just make out what the number was in the much brighter reflection. Thus, although it seems unlikely, one could argue that the number constituted a "subliminal" stimulus in its reflection off the clock surface. Therefore, Miss Z's reading of the target number cannot be considered as providing conclusive evidence for a parapsychological effect. After calling out the number, Miss Z again returned to sleep and spent approximately twenty minutes in a stage where the EEG was again quite difficult to classify. It was a generally low voltage, flattened record which looked rather like a poorly developed Stage 1 record. However, there were no REMs to speak of, and there was only a small amount of alphoid activity. Upon awaking, she reported that she had had a number of floating sensations during this time. [Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1968, vol. 62, no. 1, pp. 3-27.]

 

 

http://www.near-death.com/tart.html

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Aren't you testing for psychic phenomenon instead of souls with that approach?

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I would like to think of it as an independent consciousness. If we think of consciousness as being independent of the body somehow then I suppose it can be loosely defined as a 'soul.' It would be interesting to put it into a scientific framework, but I think no mainstream journal would accept the findings. Hence, I have mentioned that cameras should be trained on the subject throughout the experiment.

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The problem is that 'the soul' is not amenable to testing for several reasons, mostly due to its incompatability with the scientific method. I don't mean "It's dumb because we can't poke it with a stick", but rather that it can't be legitimately tested.

 

In order to test "the soul", you need:

1) A definition of "the soul" - properties, capabilities, etc. Just try to get a universal definition of a soul from a Catholic, Buddhist, and tribal animist.

2) Predictions of the soul's capabilities, thing it should always or never be able to do. Same difficulty as above.

3) Falsification criteria - what results will lead to the conclusion that there definitely is no soul? This is a persistent problem with religious concepts, as any negative result can be explained as "God didn't want it to be detected" or "well my definition is different".

 

 

Of course, this leaves aside the problem of brain vs. soul. Pretty much everything a person of the street, or even a clergyman, will describe the soul as exists in the brain. Memories, senses, personality, emotions, empathy, all are brain functions. Physical damage has resulted in defects in these aspects of injured humans, and I think you'd be hard-pressed to make a legitimate claim that the physical injury "damaged their soul". But if you take all of these as brain functions, what's left of the soul? Even if it is an "animating energy", how can the animating energy in me which lacks my memory, personality, emotions, etc. be considered "me" in any meaningful way? You may as well say my body's ATP and sugar reserves are "me".

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The problem is that 'the soul' is not amenable to testing for several reasons, mostly due to its incompatability with the scientific method. I don't mean "It's dumb because we can't poke it with a stick", but rather that it can't be legitimately tested.

 

In order to test "the soul", you need:

1) A definition of "the soul" - properties, capabilities, etc. Just try to get a universal definition of a soul from a Catholic, Buddhist, and tribal animist.

 

I wanted to define it as simply as possible as: 'consciousness independent of the body/brain' but I am willing to go along with a definition from the dictionary:

the immaterial part of a person; the actuating cause of an individual life
http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&rlz=1C1CHMB_en-GBGB307GB307&defl=en&q=define:soul&ei=8A8GSrP7OsOfjAfQxtjnBA&sa=X&oi=glossary_definition&ct=title

 

The problem is that the word immaterial militates against objective research. For that reason, I posted an analogous experience where the consciousness appears to leave the body. However, there are questions against the rigorous nature of the research because so much of the 'evidence' is anecdotal.

 

 

2) Predictions of the soul's capabilities, thing it should always or never be able to do. Same difficulty as above.
I would propose that the 'soul' would still maintain some sensibility including the senses and some memory.

 

3) Falsification criteria - what results will lead to the conclusion that there definitely is no soul? This is a persistent problem with religious concepts, as any negative result can be explained as "God didn't want it to be detected" or "well my definition is different".

 

This is the tough one and I cannot think of an answer so I don't want to be glib response. I have to think about this one.

 

Of course, this leaves aside the problem of brain vs. soul. Pretty much everything a person of the street, or even a clergyman, will describe the soul as exists in the brain. Memories, senses, personality, emotions, empathy, all are brain functions. Physical damage has resulted in defects in these aspects of injured humans, and I think you'd be hard-pressed to make a legitimate claim that the physical injury "damaged their soul". But if you take all of these as brain functions, what's left of the soul? Even if it is an "animating energy", how can the animating energy in me which lacks my memory, personality, emotions, etc. be considered "me" in any meaningful way? You may as well say my body's ATP and sugar reserves are "me".

 

I think the standard response would be that the brain is a mediator of the soul's actions, and that damage to the brain causes the soul to be faulty at controlling the body - deus ex machina in the loose sense of the phrase. However, this response takes us away from a methodology and is presented without proof. So, we appear to be back to the initial position, do the experiences of people which can be explained if a consciousness left the body constitute enough evidence for further research, or do we dismiss it as a fantasy?

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I wanted to define it as simply as possible as: 'consciousness independent of the body/brain' but I am willing to go along with a definition from the dictionary:

 

the immaterial part of a person; the actuating cause of an individual life

 

http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en...ition&ct=title

 

The problem is that the word immaterial militates against objective research. For that reason, I posted an analogous experience where the consciousness appears to leave the body. However, there are questions against the rigorous nature of the research because so much of the 'evidence' is anecdotal.

 

The problem is that even those definitions are rather vague. A true scientific test requires something a bit more specific, that leads to very specific predictions.

 

I would propose that the 'soul' would still maintain some sensibility including the senses and some memory.

 

But why? What about the definiton leads to the prediction of those capabilities? Why wouldn't you predict otherwise?

 

That's what I mean about the vagueness of the description - it doesn't lead to definite predictions. At most, it can lead to vague implications.

 

I think the standard response would be that the brain is a mediator of the soul's actions, and that damage to the brain causes the soul to be faulty at controlling the body - deus ex machina in the loose sense of the phrase. However, this response takes us away from a methodology and is presented without proof. So, we appear to be back to the initial position, do the experiences of people which can be explained if a consciousness left the body constitute enough evidence for further research, or do we dismiss it as a fantasy?

 

There is the opposite approach, though - if we can successfully replicate the 'out of body' or 'near-death' experience via stimulation of certain areas of the brain, that is strong evidence that the experiences are purely neural in origin.

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