by Greg Krehbiel on 9 June 2014
I like Scientific American … when they stick to science. When they venture into policy or politics, they annoy me, and when they venture into religion you have to deduct about 40 IQ points.
So I should have known better than to read Physics and the Immortality of the Soul. But I did, and it didn’t take long to run into an “are you kidding me?” sentence.
Claims that some form of consciousness persists after our bodies die and decay into their constituent atoms face one huge, insuperable obstacle: the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood, and there’s no way within those laws to allow for the information stored in our brains to persist after we die.
I don’t want to spend much time on his silly claim that the laws of physics are “completely understood.” Just read this article, which essentially says “no, of course they’re not, but I’m not going to admit it because I’m an idiot.”
Rather, I want to focus on “there’s no way within those laws to allow for the information stored in our brains to persist after we die.”
“No way”? Really?
People are willing to admit the possibility of all kinds of weird things. You’ll read about how warp drive may actually work, or how the Star Trek transporter could eventually be created. There are articles (even in Scientific American) about how consciousness can be measured, and although I didn’t find an article in SA about it, there’s a Wikipedia page on the possibility of copying human consciousness to a computer that seems to deny the idea that it’s a straight-forward contradiction of physics.
Given all these weird possibilities that scientists seem willing to admit — at least conceptually — how can this guy say “there’s no way within those laws to allow for the information stored in our brains to persist after we die”?
The message is clear. It’s perfectly fine to speculate about all kinds of crazy and wacky stuff that we don’t know — like, for example, that consciousness will be explained by materialism — but if you put the same question in the context of a religious topic then suddenly the rules change. Now [insert indignant grumble] it’s not possible, and we’re completely sure about that! (Only idiots would even suggest it.)
It’s not “as if” there is an “anything but God” attitude. There most certainly is such an attitude, and I think the atheist / materialist / “skeptic” community doesn’t understand the message they’re sending by having that attitude, and, more importantly, they fail to recognize that they have it.
It’s enough to make you believe St. Paul about “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.”
-- 2014-06-09 » Greg Krehbiel