Inferring the Existence of the Soul?
March 5, 2009 1 Comment
The following is an excerpt from my book, “The Universe – Solved!” It is a thought experiment that seems to prove the existence of the soul…
Given that in the primate world there is a continuum of neural complexity from lemurs to humans, it is safe to say that somewhere there is a species with roughly half the neural complexity of a human. Per the atheistic way of thinking, such a species would therefore have half the consciousness of a human. Let’s arbitrarily define the level of neural complexity on a scale from 0 to 1, 1 being human. Out primate friend would then have a neural complexity, and therefore, consciousness, of .5. Later in this chapter we will present the strong evidence of the distributed nature of the brain; namely, that there is no single specific place where a memory resides or a specific component of a visual image is captured. From the cases involving brain tumors and brain loss due to injuries, it is clear that we could remove half of a human’s brain and that person would continue to be conscious. Maybe only half as conscious as before, not unlike waking up on a beach in Cancun during spring break after a night of bad tequila.
Here comes the thought experiment part. Imagine the possibility of a brain transplant. It’s not hard to do, given that the brain is simply an organ, like the many others that are routinely subject to transplant with today’s surgical techniques. There are certainly a lot more connections to a brain compared with, say, a liver, but it’s really just a matter of time before it is possible and then ultimately perfected. Just as the cloning procedure is working its way up the species complexity scale (lab mice, sheep, humans), so will the brain transplant procedure. A head transplant, for example, was performed by Case Western Reserve University neurosurgeon Dr. Robert White on a rhesus monkey in 1970. It survived for eight days and exhibited many normal functions. Cross-species transplants, also known as xenotransplants, have long since been proven to be possible, with chimpanzee kidneys in humans, pig livers in humans, cynomolgus monkey hearts in baboons, and baboon hearts in humans all achieving some level of success. The main reasons that experimentation and advances in that field are slow to progress are the controversial ethical issue (it is right for pigs to become organ factories?) and the fear of cross-species viral infections. But, ethical and safety issues aside, it is reasonable to assume that with sufficient technology, it will be possible to transplant a human brain or portion thereof into our primate that nominally has a .5 consciousness level. Let’s further imagine that the process could become fairly straightforward, like plugging a new motherboard into a computer. As long as the interfaces line up from a physical and networking standpoint, the procedure is “plug and play.”
So let’s imagine our human subject, Nick, and 2 lesser primates, Magilla and Kong. We remove Nick’s brain and attach it to Magilla’s body. Nick should retain his memories and consciousness, but feel really different, since his sensory input is completely new. We would have to conclude that he maintained a continuous, albeit altered, stream of identity. If Karl Pribham and others are right, we could theoretically put half of Nick’s brain into Magilla and the other half in Kong. Where is his identity now? Which body does the old Nick feel that he is in? If we took the biological reductionist point of view, we would have to say that his consciousness is in both primates. That must be very confusing, receiving two separate sets of sensory stimuli and two distinct developing sets of new memories. Given that the state of the two primates is fairly consistent with the state of two similar natural primates, namely that they each have a brain of .5 neural complexity, why should there be a single conscious identity occupying both bodies in the case of Kong and Magilla, but two distinct identities in the natural case? My answer is simple, invoking Occam’s Razor. Nick’s soul simply chose which primate to move into along with his brain. Alternately, his soul could have said, “This is ridiculous. I’m returning to the spirit domain. Let some other souls fight over those abominations.”