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Empirical Delving into the Existence of the Soul.

Discussion in 'Physical & Life Sciences' started by To know, Jun 25, 2019.

  1. To know

    To know New Member

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    As Christians, science can often be our enemy, especially among contemporary physicists like Hawking, who relentlessly try to factor out God in their "Theories of Everything". And because of lack of empirical proof, they scoff at the existence of faith based concepts, like the soul.
    I am aware, though, of the research being done by Stuart Hameroff, and renowned physicist Roger Penrose, into consciousness and the existence of a perpetual soul, outside and separate of a physical body. And although I don't understand it all, it seems that they are saying that consciousness, and a "soul", could exist externally of a brain, within the space time fabric. "Warm temperature quantum vibrations", produced by microtubules in neural cells, create brain waves. Upon death of the body, somehow this neural energy is encoded in the geometry of space time and continues to exist via quantum entanglement. Looking for answers, I posed this supposition on a philosophy Q&A site, and was told it was preposterous and made no sense.
    Has there been other research in this area of neuroscience and consciousness by other scientists as well? Has such research been productive?
     
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  2. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    Another angle. What I found out at age 12, to my surprise.

    Trapped in the strong undertow in the bubbling downward flowing water after a low water dam, and unable to escape even after a full minute, and beginning to fear death, getting desperate for air...

    ...while I was afraid, and searching for a new idea, another part of me became apparent.

    A part utterly unafraid, unaffected, constant. Like an observer, that didn't care what the outcome world be, was truly unaffected. And that was me too. Evidently part of us all, not always obvious, not easy to notice as separate, but truly not body, not intellect, not feelings, not instinct. Another Person almost, or our ultimate self. Unaffected by any physical thing.
     
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  3. Monk Brendan

    Monk Brendan Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In my own observation, God refuses to be quantified in the lab.

    This applies to true miracles.
     
  4. To know

    To know New Member

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    "Thanks, Halbhh, for your reply! Your own near death experience?"
     
  5. To know

    To know New Member

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    "Obviously, I didn't realize I was being biased and I apologize, Monk Brendan."
     
  6. Tanj

    Tanj Redefined comfortable middle class

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    So sad. Do you find gravity to be your enemy as well? Hows about agile methodology?
     
  7. FrumiousBandersnatch

    FrumiousBandersnatch Well-Known Member

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    It's not preposterous to propose a novel hypothesis for consciousness, but their hypothesis is a poor one; a good hypothesis is testable, i.e. must make predictions (preferably of the currently unknown) that can be verified; it should be fruitful, i.e. its predictions should be correct; it should have explanatory scope, i.e. explain diverse phenomena and help unify our knowledge, without raising more questions than it answers or raising unanswerable questions; it should be parsimonious, i.e. make as few assumptions as possible (Occam's Razor); and it should be conservative, i.e. cohere with existing bodies of knowledge - unless it excels in the other criteria.

    Hameroff & Penrose's 'Orch OR' hypothesis fails all those criteria. Here's something I wrote about it previously:

    ...Penrose & Hameroff's 'Orch-OR' (Orchestrated Objective Reduction). When you look at the neurobiology paper by Anirban Bandyopadhyay & co. that it's based on, you'll find it's rather... er, eccentric - the abstract talks of the electronic (transmitted AC power) and optical properties (fluorescence) of microtubules (which, btw, are found in all eukaryotic cells), and proudly says, "We have carried out several tricky state-of-the-art experiments". It's hard to see how it got published. In Penrose & Hameroff's presentation, this is followed by a lot of speculative handwaving involving quantum gravity (an as-yet unresolved problem) which really explains nothing about consciousness (the intended target).

    Penrose thinks that consciousness must be non-computational (because... Godel's theorems) and so something equally mysterious must be behind it - hence quantum... stuff. There's a YouTube video where he basically admits this. There also seem to be some dubious connections between Hameroff, Bandyopadhyay, quantum mysticism, and Deepak Chopra, which is not a good sign. Penrose is a clever man, and a great physicist, but he's not a biologist; I think he's been had, but that's my unsubstantiated guesswork.

    Anyhow, there are numerous criticisms of this whole idea in the Wiki link and here: Falsifications of Orch-OR, and here: Gaps in Penrose's Toilings (a bad pun on Penrose Tiling).

    Who knows, Penrose may be right; I seriously doubt it, but at least he's trying.

    The idea that "...somehow this neural energy is encoded in the geometry of space time and continues to exist via quantum entanglement..." sounds like woo of the highest order, raising a slew of fundamental physics questions, and bears no relation to the neuroscience they invoke for the microtubule basis of their hypothesis, i.e. it's incoherent and inconsistent.

    There has been a fair amount of speculative hypothesising about some connection between quantum mechanics and consciousness, but no significant research that I'm aware of - simply observing that certain quantum effects may occur in certain subcellular components and handwaving speculation that they may play a role in consciousness, without substantiating evidence, is simply the latest in a long line of 'quantum woo'.


    Physicist Henry Stapp argues for a form of 'conscious collapse' Copenhagen interpretation of QM married with panpsychism - again, the involvement of Deepak Chopra is not a good sign.

    For more, see Quantum Mind [Wikipedia], and Quantum Approaches to Consciousness [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy] - particularly the conclusions of the latter.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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  8. jayem

    jayem Naturalist

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    It's not plausible to me in any way that consciousness can exist without functioning neural circuitry. And consciousness requires specific neuronal circuits at that. Example: I have a history of colon polyps--fortunately all benign. So I get a colonoscopy every 3 years. Just before the procedure, I get a slug of propofol injected into my IV line. And I'm totally gone. No vision, no hearing, no feeling, no awareness of any kind. I'm in a state of complete oblivion. Propofol augments GABA, gamma aminobutryric acid. Which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that blocks nerve impulses, particularly in the parts of the brain that effectuate consciousness (like the reticular formation in the brainstem.) If neural networks produce some kind of quantum effects outside the body that enable consciousness even after death, why am I totally unconscious when such neural networks are just temporarily turned off by an anesthetic drug? Am I making myself clear?
     
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  9. FrumiousBandersnatch

    FrumiousBandersnatch Well-Known Member

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    Quite; and the idea that if there could be 'quantum encoding' of the neural networks that can persist in the absence of those neural networks provides no comfort for those seeking immortality - if the neural networks have gone, there's no substrate for the active expression of the encoded information; if the encoding is via entanglement, it will decay rapidly as the entangled particles interact with the environment (in microseconds). If it could somehow persist by some other mechanism, it would be a snapshot of the brain at death - who wants their last conscious moment to persist forever, to have their surprise, or fear, or exhaustion, or dementia, or plain desire for an end, to continue indefinitely? That really would be hell...

    Those after permanence might do better to contemplate the 4D Parminidean block universe of Special Relativity, where all moments of past and future are equally real, and their lives follow a world-line through time from birth to death, all moments represented.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  10. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    A good parallel: For a long while now physicists/astrophysicists have tried to figure out what is causing the apparent extra gravitation they think is happening, where light is bent by galaxies and clusters of galaxies more than expected (under the endlessly confirmed General Relativity), and galactic rotation is faster in the outer region of galaxies than expected, as if more matter of kinds we know of was there than is there.

    There have been many theories. Not just one or two. And many have been shown false. And there are many (including plenty new) currently that contradict one another and are not yet supported nor disproven.

    We'd not assert just one particular theory, and if disproved eventually on the original terms of that hypothesis, then assert dark matter does not exist as a definite conclusion. Because the light is bent as much as it is.

    For instance if a theory says "given observation X, and if Y also is the case, then using idea Z would explain X and predict R" and then later we figure out or observe not-R, then we can not assert not-X, and cannot even assert not-Y, though we could say "given observation X, and if Y also is the case, then idea Z is wrong as formulated. That is, if Y turns out supported over time, then Z looks to be wrong as formulated currently, or its at least missing something if not totally false (in that as yet unknown but possible outcome of not-Y). ". Put another way, we should not merely assume Y (that unproven, or even unexamined part), nor that our formulation/assumption of Y is accurate. So, can't jump to a clear conclusion about X...Not least of which because many other theories are at hand also.

    But everyone has their favorite unexamined set of assumptions Y, Y1, Y2 (however many a person is using, often not just one). Here's an example of reasonable thinking: Dark Matter Theories
    We can't assume Y1 is correct nor incorrect, but if we can search out/discover a previously hidden, unrealized Y2, and bring that into the light, it's helpful.

    A Y1 I like is that the soul is associated to consciousness, but doesn't go out of existence when consciousness is totally interrupted, as post #8 above helps illustrate. Though it can depart apparently in other situations.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  11. Sanoy

    Sanoy Well-Known Member

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    Well that's unsuprising given our present atmosphere of metaphysical inquiry, or lack thereof.

    Hammerof/Penrose propose a type of dualsim that would be considered physicalism+materialism rather than soul and mind. Physical includes all things described by physics and chemistry, and materialism refers to all things with mass. Material things are a subset of the physical world. So while it is technically dualist and immaterial, it is still a scientific hypothesis because it is a physical (physicalism) hypothesis and should not be dismissed as an unscientific hypothesis because it goes outside the material.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  12. Sanoy

    Sanoy Well-Known Member

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    I can confirm your experience. It's led me to the conclusion that the thing we are through most of our life is an emergence from that other self (our true self) and our body. It's a very old idea, that is called today a "divine double" and which some believe is what acts 12:15 refers to regarding seeing "Peter's Angel".

    (I will not be debating these statements, they are addressed to Halbhh alone)
     
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  13. FrumiousBandersnatch

    FrumiousBandersnatch Well-Known Member

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    A 'dark' particle was always the best-fit explanation known for the observations, and when the cosmic microwave background studies were done, they indicated a dark particle even more strongly; MOND hypotheses can't explain all the observations without including a new dark particle, so the main question these days is what kind of dark particle it might be, given that, with its low interaction cross-section, it will be even more difficult to detect than the neutrino.

    What is a 'soul'? how would consciousness be associated with one? In what way(s) is that a better hypothesis than suggesting consciousness is associated with magic or pixies?

    We already have reams of good evidence that consciousness is associated with a brain - what makes you feel that something extra may be necessary?
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  14. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    We believe consciousness generally arises from a physical brain (though I'd be interested to hear other theories). I don't feel or think basic consciousness relies on anything outside of matter/energy ( I can't rule out possible physical effects of unknown matter and/or energy of course).

    But I dont think physical consciousness is necessarily all there is to our awareness (though of course it can be for any portion of the time). I don't tend to be inclined to simplify or think we understand all about something so complex and nuanced. It may not be easy to distinguish soul from consciousness. I hypothesize the soul is separate from consciousness, but associated to it. An imperfect or incomplete metaphor: a brain is distinct from a body generally, but associated to one generally. We know a brain exists, but in person you experience a person typically as a whole instead.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  15. FrumiousBandersnatch

    FrumiousBandersnatch Well-Known Member

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    So, what is a 'soul'? how would consciousness be associated with one? In what way(s) is that a better hypothesis than suggesting consciousness is associated with magic or pixies?
     
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  16. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    No, I wasn't passing out (in ordinary consciousness), but was very much wide awake. I found out there is a part of us totally unaffected by the physical or imminent threat of death. This awareness was calm, and seemed as if just observing in that moment, then I was too distracted with surviving to continue trying to experiment. It's like we are two selves.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
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