By every indication we have, immaterial souls, brainless minds, or entities that occupy some ethereal afterlife do not exist. The widespread belief that humans have an immortal soul that survives the death of the body is utterly unfounded. A body of neuroscience research that grows every day has given us an increasingly fine grained understanding of the neural architecture of the brain that is responsible for producing our thoughts, our feelings, our memories, our goals, our plans, and our consciousness. A mountain of evidence indicates that brain damage produces mind damage. And that the destruction of the brain causes the destruction of the mind. That is to say that everything that has been traditionally associated with the immortal soul is dependent upon the brain to exist. So when the brain dies, the soul goes with it.
God is thought to be a person. He has plans, desires, goals, and emotions. He acts, he creates, he loves, and he commands. He reacts to our behaviors. He is alleged to form personal relationships with people through prayer and meditation. He communicates to them through signs and indicators. Sometimes people claim to have heard his voice, felt him exert his will, or even to have encountered him directly.
So by the most common characterizations, God has a consciousness. By my account above, to have a mind is to have a soul. Minds and souls are different terms for the same thing. So God can be said, by common accounts, to have a mind or to have a soul. His soul, they say, filled with love for us, his creation.
God is thought to be immaterial. While God has contact with the material world, he is not in it.
Or alternately, God doesn’t have a brain. But if God is alleged to be a person, and being a person requires having a mind. But having a mind requires a brain, and God doesn’t have a brain.
Therefore, God does not exist.
The most likely responses to this argument will be something like these: First, “Isn’t it possible that God is not a person?” Second, “Isn’t it possible that God does have a brain? Maybe it’s something bigger than we have ever encountered, or it’s someplace we have never seen or been?”
Perhaps. These might be possible. But possibilities do not render a belief reasonable. It is possible there is a million dollars in my bank account. But it would be flagrantly irrational of me to conclude that there is a million dollars there because it is possible. What we need to see is some evidence, any real indicator that such a thing is true. And until that evidence is in hand, we are justified in concluding that that suggestion is as preposterous as it sounds.
Saturday, February 24, 2007