Summary Against Modern Thought: The Soul Begins At Conception, Part I

This may be proved in three ways. The first...
This may be proved in three ways. The first…
See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

Part I of three parts, showing life begins at conception. What follows from this truth is not taken up, but is anyway obvious.

Chapter 83 That the human soul begins to exist when the body does (alternate translation) We’re still using the alternate translation.

1 Now, since the same things are found both to begin to be and to end, someone might suppose that, because the human soul will not cease to exist, neither will it have begun to exist, but, on the contrary, has always been. And it would seem possible to prove this by the following arguments.

Notes Be careful, here is where the counter-arguments begin (some of which are very clever); to be answered later. And please don’t forget God never started to exist: He always was; He is outside time. Paragraph 5 shows the peril of amateur exegesis.

2 That which will never cease to be has the power to exist forever. But no such thing can ever be truly said not to be; for the extent of a thing’s existential duration is exactly commensurate with its power of existing. But of every thing which had begun to exist, it is at some time true to say that it is not. Therefore, that which will never cease to exist, at no time begins to be.

3 Moreover, just as the truth of intelligible things is imperishable, so is that truth, of itself, eternal; because it is necessary, and whatever is necessary is eternal, for what is necessary to be cannot possibly not be. Now, the imperishable being of the soul is demonstrated from the imperishability of intelligible truth. Hence, by the same reasoning, the soul’s eternity can be proved from the eternal being of intelligible both.

4 Also, a thing that lacks several of its principal parts is not perfect. But, clearly, the principal parts of the universe are intellectual substances, in the genus of which human souls belong, as we have shown above. If every day as many human souls begin to exist as men are born, then, obviously, many of the principal parts of the universe are added to it daily, so that it lacks a multiplicity of things. Consequently, the universe is imperfect. But this is impossible.

5 Then, too, some draw their arguments from the authority of Sacred Scripture. For in Genesis (2:2) it is said that “on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made: and He rested from all His work which He had done.” But, if God made new souls every day, this would not be true. Therefore, no new human souls ever begin to exist, but they have existed from the beginning of the world.

6 Hence, for these and similar reasons, proponents of the doctrine of the world’s eternity have said that, just as the human soul is incorruptible, so has it existed from all eternity. That is why the upholders of the theory of the immortality of human souls in their multiple existence—I refer to the Platonists—asserted that they have existed from eternity, and are united to bodies at one time and separated from them at another, these vicissitudes following a fixed cyclical pattern throughout set periods of years.

Advocates of the theory that human souls are immortal in respect of some single reality, pertaining to all men, which remains after death, declared, however, that this one entity has endured from all eternity; whether it be the agent intellect alone, as Alexander held, or, together with this, the possible intellect, as Averroes maintained. Aristotle, also, seems to be making the same point when, speaking of the intellect, he says that it is not only incorruptible, but also everlasting.

7 On the other hand, some who profess the Catholic faith, yet are imbued with the teachings of the Platonists, have taken a middle position. For, since the Catholic faith teaches that nothing is eternal except God, these persons maintain, not that human souls are eternal, but that they were created with, or rather before, the visible world, yet are fettered to bodies anew. Among these Christians, Origen was the first exponent of this theory, and a number of his disciples followed suit. The theory, indeed, survives to this day among heretics, the Manicheans, for example, siding with Plato in proclaiming the eternity and transmutation of souls.

8 Now, all these opinions can be easily shown to have no foundation in truth. For it has already been proved that there does not exist only one possible agent intellect for all men. Hence, it remains for us to proceed against those theories which, while envisaging the existence of many human souls, maintain that they existed before bodies, either from eternity, or from the foundation of the world. The incongruity of such a notion is exposed by the following arguments.

9 For, it has already been established that the soul is united to the body as its form and act. Now, although act is prior in its nature to potentiality, nevertheless in one and the same thing it is temporally posterior to it; for a thing is moved from potentiality to act. Thus, seed, which is potentially living, preceded the soul, which is the act of life.

Notes Slow down and read that twice. Act is prior in its nature to potentiality, yet potentiality is temporally prior to act.

10 Moreover, it is natural to every form to be united to its proper matter; otherwise, that which is made of form and matter would be something preternatural. But that which befits a thing naturally is attributed to it before that which befits it preternaturally, because the latter is in it by accident, the former, through itself. Now, that which is by accident is always posterior to that which is through itself. It is, therefore, becoming to the soul to be united to the body before being separated from it. The soul, then, was not created before the body to which it is united.

11 Again, every part existing in separation from its whole is imperfect. Now, the soul, being a form, as has been proved, is a part of the specific nature of man. Hence, as long as it exists through itself apart from the body, it is imperfect. But in the order of natural things, the perfect is prior to the imperfect. It would, therefore, be inconsistent with the order of nature were the soul created apart from the body before being united to it.

Note Yet the soul, your intellectual form, persists after the corruption of the body. Hence to reattain its perfection requires a resurrection.

12 And again, if souls are created without bodies, it must be asked how they are united to bodies. This union could he effected in but two ways: by violence or by nature. Now, everything violent is against nature, so that if the union of soul and body is brought about by violence it is not natural. Hence, man, who is composed of both, is something unnatural; which is obviously false. There is also the consideration that intellectual substances are of a higher order than the heavenly bodies. But in the latter there is nothing violent or contrary. Much less, therefore, does any such thing exist in intellectual substances.

13 Now, if the union of souls to bodies is natural, then, in their creation, souls had a natural desire to be united to bodies. Now, natural appetite immediately issues in act if no obstacle stands in the way, as we see in the movement of heavy and light bodies; for nature always works in the same way. So, unless something existed to prevent it, souls would have been united to bodies from the very beginning of their creation. But whatever obstructs the realisation of natural appetite does violence to it. That at some time souls existed in separation from bodies was therefore the result of violence. And this is incongruous, not only because in such substances there can be nothing violent, as was shown, but also because the violent and the unnatural, being accidental, cannot be prior to that which is in keeping with nature, nor can they be consequent upon the total species.

Notes “nature always works in the same way”. This is true, of course, only when circumstances are identical.

14 Furthermore, since everything naturally desires its own perfection, it pertains to matter to desire form, and not conversely. But the soul is compared to the body as form to matter, as was shown above. Therefore, the union of the soul to the body is not brought about in response to the desire of the soul, but, rather, of the body.

15 Now, the argument may be raised that union with the body is natural to the soul, as well as separation from it, according to various periods of time. But such a notion seems impossible. For changes that take place naturally in a subject are accidental, such as youth and old age; so that, if its union with, and separation from the body are for the soul natural changes, then union with the body will be an accident of the soul. The human being constituted by this union therefore will not be an essential but an accidental being.

32 Comments

  1. “Therefore, that which will never cease to exist, at no time begins to be.”

    “will never cease to exist” usually meaning “will continue in existence forever”, but which meaning is silent as to its prior existence.

    So an exception would be something which begins to exist at t=t1 and continues until t=+infinity.

    For example, lead coming into existence from uranium decay.

    No doubt St Tomas was a clever bloke, but it all seems a bit circular argument dependent on the premises to my poor brain and I give up after a few paragraphs 🙁

  2. This apparent difficulty with an “eternity” with a beginning and an absolute eternity with no beginning and no end is easily explained with a reasonable definition of time… something that the ancient thinkers had essentially stitched up when wrestling with concepts of a distinction between eternal and temporal.

    Time is the succession of events… absolute eternity is no succession of events… for God everything is an eternal “now”, as the great men said, there is no “before” and no “after”.

    The temporal simply means of, or in, time. An eternity of time simply means an endless succession of events that could begin anywhere in a succession of events and continue forever after in an endless succession of events.

    A New Heaven and a New Earth is a logical necessity if temporal beings are to spend an eternity exploring the infinite.

  3. Genesis 2 7

    “Then the Lord God formed a man[c] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

    Life begin a first breath even the Bible says so. Give the women their body back and stop trying to impose your will upon others.

  4. Curious.;… An unacceptable comment according to the appointed adjudicator.

    My comment is too short according to the adjudicator. Here I am making it longer.
    [quote] Life begin a first breath even the Bible says so. Give the women their body back and stop trying to impose your will upon others. [/quote]
    I have not taken any woman’s body, or nature, so I cannot give what I do not have. If I could I would “impose my will upon others” so that they’d be my lackeys… but even God doesn’t do that.

    Are we supposed to assume that reality depends on the opinions of madmen?

  5. @ Mr. Briggs: “God never started to exist: He always was; He is outside time”
    @ Oldavid: “for God everything is an eternal “now””

    If god is ‘eternal’ and can ‘see’ all of time, he can see everything that will ever happen, so:

    1. What’s happened to free will if there’s also predestination?

    2. God is 100% deciding ‘in advance’ how many people to save because he can ‘see’ (imagine) the entire future consequences of any intervention in the world.

    Regarding ‘souls’, I have nothing. I seem to have missed the part where TA explained what one is supposed to be.

  6. The soul, i.e. the conscious principle, is not made of parts and therefore cannot be produced or destroyed. The sun globe has always co-existed with its light even though it can be said that it is the origin of that light. In a similar manner, the souls have always co-existed with God even though He is their cause. Furthermore, that which begins cannot be conscious, as, logically, only a prior state of thinking can precede present thought processes—something cannot come from nothing. The thought processes are not those of God; they are not ‘programmed’ by Him, as the souls possess free will.
    It seems to me that this notion of the soul having a beginning demonstrates a devolution of spiritual understanding due to false identification with matter in the form of a body.

  7. OldDavid,

    “I have not taken any woman’s body, or nature, so I cannot give what I do not have. ”

    Then I guess unlike Briggs you support the women’s right to abortion. If not you are violating their inalienable right to liberty to do as they want with their body.

  8. Give the women their body back …
    “I have not taken any woman’s body, or nature, so I cannot give what I do not have. ”
    Then I guess unlike Briggs you support the women’s right to abortion.

    English is a tough language so here it is in French (sort of)
    Je n’ai pas pris le corps d’une femme, ni la nature,
    Je ne peux pas rendre ce que je n’ai pas pris.
    Je ne peux pas donner ce que je n’ai pas.

    OTOH, you seem to have an ongoing problem with logic.
    Perhaps your “smarter than a normal person” village idiot you’ve bragged about can explain it to you.

  9. Dav,

    You seem to be the one that has a problem with logic.

    I stated that if like Briggs and you and most on this site he was anti-abortion he was telling women what to do with their own body. If he doesn’t care about abortion, then my comment doesn’t concern him.

    Religion has taken over the women. they made them the ultimate sinner for human suffering. Their period made them impure. Abortion made them murderer and criminal.

    BTW: This is what Canadian sniper can do:

    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canadian-elite-special-forces-sniper-sets-record-breaking-kill-shot-in-iraq/article35415651/

  10. So, you want to give women their body back… the body that has never been “taken” but by transgenderites… the body and soul of them that has always been the mother of the whole human race? There is a dark perversity in here. I am what I am only because I have a mother.

    Go away, you sulphurous, steaming monster! Just as the Great Mother is the handmaid of Creation so are all mothers…

  11. @ Akinchana Dasa:

    “Furthermore, that which begins cannot be conscious, as, logically, only a prior state of thinking can precede present thought processes—something cannot come from nothing”

    That’s funny, I woke up from unconsciousness (commonly known as ‘sleep’) and started thinking consciously only just a few hours ago.

  12. I stated that if like Briggs and you and most on this site he was anti-abortion he was telling women what to do with their own body.

    He (and I apparently) said so by pointing out he has not taken any bodies of women? And I’m the illogical one? Ooo-kayy! Don’t understand why Lefties are called Reds when Maroons would be more accurate.

  13. Akinchana: Furthermore, that which begins cannot be conscious, as, logically, only a prior state of thinking can precede present thought processes—something cannot come from nothing.

    swordfishtrombone: That’s funny, I woke up from unconsciousness (commonly known as ‘sleep’) and started thinking consciously only just a few hours ago.

    Akinchana: Were you not thinking before going to sleep? Do you not experience a continuity of existence despite a temporary state of unawareness? A state of zero intelligence and zero knowledge cannot lead to a state of intelligence and knowledge. Intelligence without knowledge would also fail to produce a state of intelligence and knowledge. The inverse is also true, i.e. knowledge but no intelligence. Any present state of intelligence and knowledge would have to be preceded by a prior state of a combination of intelligence and knowledge, no matter when in the past.
    If something ‘begins’, then the causal agent lies outside of it and consciousness will not be one of its properties, but rather that of the causal agent. The relationship of the soul (consciousness) to the body is a prime example of this. It is the soul that has entered the body made of inert matter that makes the body appear to move and think. Therefore, the soul exists prior to the animation of the body, as it is the animator.
    For example, a rock or a pebble cannot move, as it is inert. However, if a sentient being throws a pebble, it moves. Therefore, ‘movement’ is a perception of a conscious agent and does not belong to matter such as rocks, computers, etc.

  14. Let’s stick to the topic.

    Everything that I am or have is given to me… I cannot create myself. The only real ownership of my being is that I am perfectly free to reject some good offered to me. I cannot create my own goodness.

    What some of the perverse nutcases here seem to be claiming is that somehow a “woman’s body” includes the new life that proceeds from her. What nutcase would claim that for a woman to chop off her own limbs for some convenience is not deranged? Why then is it assumed that for her to completely destroy another person’s entire body for her convenience not regarded as an act of a deranged egomaniac?

    Mothers are almost the greatest gift of the Creator… so much so that He wanted one of His Own.

  15. @ Akinchana Dasa: “A state of zero intelligence and zero knowledge cannot lead to a state of intelligence and knowledge.”

    Says who? The evidence is against this. What you’re claiming can’t happen has already happened billions of times. You’ve not defined exactly what you mean by “intelligence” or “knowledge”, or what a “zero” state of either would look like, but I can assure you that according to commonplace definitions, intelligence increases as we develop and knowledge is accumulated. I know because it happened to me!

  16. @ Akinchana Dasa: “A state of zero intelligence and zero knowledge cannot lead to a state of intelligence and knowledge.”

    Says who? The evidence is against this. What you’re claiming can’t happen has already happened billions of times. You’ve not defined exactly what you mean by “intelligence” or “knowledge”, or what a “zero” state of either would look like, but I can assure you that according to commonplace definitions, intelligence increases as we develop and knowledge is accumulated. I know because it happened to me!

    Akinchana: Yes, intelligence (reasoning ability) and knowledge (info or data) change according to our own choices or self-volition. However, these do not always develop for the better. Sometimes, according to poor choices, one’s intelligence and knowledge decreases, e.g. a state of extreme drug addiction.

    You say the evidence is against my proposal, yet a functioning computer, for example, cannot materialise from a state of no processing skills (intelligence) and no data base (knowledge). Processing skills without a data base would represent an uninitialised memory, and a data base without processing skills would mean the absence of a program to instantiate the computer operation. Therefore, the only logical admissible prior state would have to be some admixture of processing skills and a data base, no matter how primitive/sophisticated or at what particular time. Living beings are not computers, but this analogy provides a rough illustration of the implications of saying that sentience has a beginning.
    If a system displays ‘intelligent’ behaviour but has its origin in a point in time, then one can conclude that another cognitive system has crossed its point of origin, and the causality of the first system’s ‘behaviour’ should be attributed to the second system. For example, the conscious entity (soul) is the actual causal agent of the thought and movement of the material body, as it is also the cause of the appearance of intelligent behaviour in a computer.

  17. @ Akinchana Dasa,

    I think you’re looking at this in the wrong way. To use you computer analogy, would it be possible to create a computer from scratch by just randomly assembling gates together then testing the result? The answer must be yes. There is no reason why a working combination of logic gates cannot occur. This is basically what evolution has done, except it hasn’t assembled a whole human brain from scratch in one step but in many, many steps.

  18. I think we need to make a distinction between intelligence and intellect.

    Intelligence, shall we say, is very much a matter of learned, or programmed, response to stimulus or other inputs; something that even animals, or machines (to a lesser degree) might exhibit.

    Intellect, on the other hand, is a capacity to know and understand. Which may, or may not, be displayed as an “appropriate” response to stimulus. Intellect, I contend, will not simply respond to stimulus but will evaluate it and make a judgement of the “rightness” or “wrongness” of any response. Beasts and machines have no capacity in that regard.

    A soul begins at conception:
    The nature (and life) of the being is transmitted from its parents. The individuality of the being (what separates it from all similar beings) is determined at its inception (conception) and is accentuated in its development. The guts of it is that a human zygote is as human as a grandmother but they just haven’t got there yet.

  19. @ Oldavid: “Intellect, I contend, will not simply respond to stimulus but will evaluate it and make a judgement of the “rightness” or “wrongness” of any response. Beasts and machines have no capacity in that regard.”

    This is just an assertion. Where is your evidence that ‘beasts and machines’ cannot evaluate ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’, or that such an abilty can’t evolve?

  20. [quote] This is just an assertion. Where is your evidence that ‘beasts and machines’ cannot evaluate ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’, or that such an abilty can’t evolve? [/quote]

    “Evidence” is always and everywhere evident in observation of the real world. Does your computer or pet dog reprimand you for posting irrational or belligerent provocations? Mine don’t and I expect that they never will so I can be as provocative as I like until someone programmes a computer to reject certain word sequences.

    Any “Evolution” is always and only in the direction of entropy except where any apparent, temporary, localised “unentropic” action is the result of the action of some power, intellect and will.

    The onus is on you to demonstrate that nature, always and everywhere observed, does not exist or does not apply.

  21. swordfishtrombone: I think you’re looking at this in the wrong way. To use your computer analogy, would it be possible to create a computer from scratch by just randomly assembling gates together then testing the result? The answer must be yes. There is no reason why a working combination of logic gates cannot occur. This is basically what evolution has done, except it hasn’t assembled a whole human brain from scratch in one step but in many, many steps.

    Akinchana: It is consciousness that possesses actual intelligence (reasoning ability) and knowledge (information), not matter (the body). The agent of cognition is not the body. A computer does not ‘think’. It only appears to do so because of a conscious designer/programmer. By means of self-volition and various material changes or disturbances (accidents, illnesses, etc.), the conscious entity can ably express itself via the material body and sometimes not. For example, a child may desire to walk at a very early age but, due to a lack of development of the material body, cannot. Then, with maturation of the body, walking becomes possible. However, at old age, due to deterioration of the body, the desires of the living being may be again thwarted and walking becomes impossible, but in all cases, the desiring causal agent remains the same.
    Regarding the brain, one can consider it as an interface of sorts in the way that a sound card functions in a computer. If a sound card is defective for some reason, then unwanted noises, distortion or no audio at all may result. Similarly, under normal conditions, the brain acts as a conduit for the conscious causal agent, but if some damage should occur then it might seem like the ‘person’ has changed or disappeared. However, whatever changes may occur to the body, the conscious self remains intact, as it’s not identical with the body. If a television or radio should break, does this mean that the television or radio station is also affected?
    The idea that the living being and the body are not the same is the actual beginning point of spiritual understanding. If this basic concept is not there, then everything will be clouded by the material conception. One can see the results of this mentality everywhere, and it’s not pretty. A person thinks, “I am the body and this is my brain, my arms, legs, etc.” Then, by extension, “This is my family, my neighbourhood, my community, my town, my country, my planet, etc.” Unfortunately, all are thinking the same thing, so conflict is inevitable. How will there ever be any sort of harmony when this sort of thinking prevails?
    Returning to the original topic, things composed of matter such as the body may appear to have a point of origin in time, but consciousness is not a part of time (or space), and therefore has no beginning, middle or ending. Not being identical with the body, why should the soul begin with it? Even Newton recognised the eternal nature of energy, so why deny eternality to the conscious living being, which is certainly energetic?

  22. @ Oldavid:

    ““Evidence” is always and everywhere evident in observation of the real world. Does your computer or pet dog reprimand you for posting irrational or belligerent provocations? Mine don’t and I expect that they never will so I can be as provocative as I like until someone programmes a computer to reject certain word sequences.”

    You might ‘expect they never will’, but your expectation isn’t evidence. In any case, computers can already ‘reject certain word sequences’ so your claim is falsified.

    “Any “Evolution” is always and only in the direction of entropy except where any apparent, temporary, localised “unentropic” action is the result of the action of some power, intellect and will.”

    Where is your evidence that evolution is directed or has anything to do with any ‘intellect’ or ‘will’? There is none.

    “The onus is on you to demonstrate that nature, always and everywhere observed, does not exist or does not apply.”

    I don’t have to demonstrate anything. You’re the one rejecting almost everything science has discovered in the last 100 years – why don’t you provide some evidence to back up your position other than what amounts to “things look designed to me”.

  23. @ Akinchana Dasa:

    “It is consciousness that possesses actual intelligence (reasoning ability) and knowledge (information), not matter (the body)”

    This is an assertion with no evidence to support it and you haven’t defined what you mean by ‘consciousness’.

    “A computer does not ‘think’. It only appears to do so because of a conscious designer/programmer.”

    Again, I’ve already established that a working computer could be assembled (evolved) by chance, *including* it’s program, so this is a baseless assertion. In addition, how do you know that what people (and other animals) do is any different?

    “Similarly, under normal conditions, the brain acts as a conduit for the conscious causal agent, but if some damage should occur then it might seem like the ‘person’ has changed or disappeared.”

    Behavioural changes caused by growth or damage are 100 % consistent with a materialistic explanation so there’s no reason to complicate things further with imaginary, non-materialistic entities.

    “However, whatever changes may occur to the body, the conscious self remains intact”

    Yet again, there’s no evidence to support this assertion, in fact all available evidence goes against it. As I’ve already pointed out, even sleep disproves it.

    “The idea that the living being and the body are not the same is the actual beginning point of spiritual understanding.”

    You mean it’s the beginning of wasting your reasoning ability by not using it and believing in fantasy instead.

    “Even Newton recognised the eternal nature of energy, so why deny eternality to the conscious living being, which is certainly energetic?”

    Because there is no evidence whatsoever to support this idea.

  24. re swordfishtrombone:

    That computers are programmed to reject some word sequences does not mean that the computer has the capacity to make moral (or immoral) judgements.

    What science has discovered since time immemorial is that nothing does not spontaneously turn itself into everything. What you are claiming as “science” is a monstrous diabolical hoax; an anti-scientific, quasi-religious ideology formed in the imagination of egomaniacs.

    I claim that “Evolution” is scientifically impossible. Localised, temporary diversions of natural entropic processes such as the construction and operation of machines and structures are the product of intellect and will. Show us an instance of even an aeroplane forming itself and perfecting itself without the “interference” of intellect and power and will outside itself.

  25. Akinchana: “It is consciousness that possesses actual intelligence (reasoning ability) and knowledge (information), not matter (the body)”

    Swordfish: This is an assertion with no evidence to support it and you haven’t defined what you mean by ‘consciousness’.

    Akinchana: By ‘consciousness’ I mean a combination of reasoning ability, knowledge and self-volition.

    Matter is inert. Other than bodies one cannot find any counter examples, and if one argues that a body is a unique conglomeration of inert matter from which self-volition and cognisance emerges, then that argument is vulnerable to reversal, i.e. the uniqueness of that particular assemblage of matter could just as well be a reason why consciousness could not emerge. There is no evidence of material causality to consciousness, only correlations. To say that there are correlations between the ‘physical’ and ‘mental’ realms is like saying that there are correlations between the wheels and steering wheel of a car, which is hardly enlightening. The driver is the actual causal agent and all the other components behave according to the will of the conscious driver.

    Akinchana: “A computer does not ‘think’. It only appears to do so because of a conscious designer/programmer.”

    Swordfish: Again, I’ve already established that a working computer could be assembled (evolved) by chance, *including* it’s program, so this is a baseless assertion. In addition, how do you know that what people (and other animals) do is any different?

    Akinchana: Then please provide an example of a computer that has been assembled by chance and is not the result of purposeful design and programming. You ask for evidence in other parts of your posts, yet all observable evidence supports my contention rather than yours.

    Akinchana: “Similarly, under normal conditions, the brain acts as a conduit for the conscious causal agent, but if some damage should occur then it might seem like the ‘person’ has changed or disappeared.”

    Swordfish: Behavioural changes caused by growth or damage are 100 % consistent with a materialistic explanation so there’s no reason to complicate things further with imaginary, non-materialistic entities.

    Akinchana: Yes, that is correct, but materialistic explanations fail in many areas, so it’s not at all unreasonable to look for other explanations.

    Akinchana: “However, whatever changes may occur to the body, the conscious self remains intact”

    Swordfish: Yet again, there’s no evidence to support this assertion, in fact all available evidence goes against it. As I’ve already pointed out, even sleep disproves it.

    Akinchana: Your example of sleep disproves nothing, as you failed to explain the sense of continuity from going to sleep to waking up. Why do you remember who you were and what you were doing before entering the sleep state if you did not exist while sleeping? There is a branch of Buddhism (kshanavada – the doctrine of momentariness) that has tried quite cleverly to prove a similar point, however, their arguments fall short of succeeding. Unfortunately, their arguments are extremely detailed and there is no space here for them.

    Reminding you of some comments from my earlier post, a child wants to walk early on in life but cannot due to immaturity of the body. Later in life, the desire to walk remains and the body is able to facilitate the living being’s desire. Then, at the end of life when the body is worn out, the desire to walk remains but the body may not be able to do so. Throughout this, the conscious self’s desire remains unchanged but the body undergoes many changes. The soul is separate from matter, being an immutable non-material substance, whereas matter is in a constant state of flux. This can clearly be observed and is self-evidential for those whose perception is not obscured by material influences. For example, sometimes air passes over some scented flowers and picks up their scent, and sometimes it passes over rotting garbage and picks up an unpleasant aroma. In neither case does the air become those things. It is only temporarily influenced by them. The situation is similar with the relation between the soul and the temporary material body.

    Akinchana: “The idea that the living being and the body are not the same is the actual beginning point of spiritual understanding.”

    Swordfish: You mean it’s the beginning of wasting your reasoning ability by not using it and believing in fantasy instead.

    Akinchana: Rationality is not synonymous with the materialist’s ‘identity’ theory.

    Akinchana: “Even Newton recognised the eternal nature of energy, so why deny eternality to the conscious living being, which is certainly energetic?”

    Swordfish: Because there is no evidence whatsoever to support this idea.

    Akinchana: Yet you’ve said earlier that computers and bodies can assemble by chance, even though there’s not a shred of evidence for such an assertion.

  26. @ Oldavid:

    “That computers are programmed to reject some word sequences does not mean that the computer has the capacity to make moral (or immoral) judgements.”

    Evidence for this assertion? I can’t think of a good reason why we’d want a computer do this as we can already do it ourselves, but I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t be done. It’d probably be better than relying on the moral values of a god who commits genocide and sanctions slavery.

    “What science has discovered since time immemorial is that nothing does not spontaneously turn itself into everything.”

    Science doesn’t claim that ‘nothing’ has spontaneously turned itself into everything. In any case, what is this imaginary ‘nothing’ of which you speak?

    “I claim that “Evolution” is scientifically impossible.”

    Good luck with that. Not only is evolution possible, it’s inevitable and still happening. You’re disputing 100 years of evidence, scientific study and experimentation. Instead of arguing with a nobody like me, why not try commenting on evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne’s blog and see what he’s got to say about your theory?

    “Show us an instance of even an aeroplane forming itself and perfecting itself without the “interference” of intellect and power and will outside itself.”

    This is silly. If you want to see something which evolution has built, look in a mirror.

  27. @ Akinchana Dasa:

    (I’m not quoting all that! This is a simplified response:)

    “Why do you remember who you were and what you were doing before entering the sleep state if you did not exist while sleeping?”

    Memory. I didn’t say we don’t exist while sleeping, only that we’re not conscious. A non-material ‘soul’ *cannot* have a memory. Incidentally, in your picture, where does the ‘soul’ go to when we sleep?

    “The soul is separate from matter, being an immutable non-material substance, whereas matter is in a constant state of flux.”

    There is no evidence for such a thing. In any case, how could a non-material ‘soul’ interact with a material body?

    “You ask for evidence in other parts of your posts, yet all observable evidence supports my contention rather than yours.”

    Name one piece of evidence.

    “Yet you’ve said earlier that computers and bodies can assemble by chance, even though there’s not a shred of evidence for such an assertion.”

    I said a working computer could be assembled by chance *in principle*, not that such a thing has happened per se, but it’s worth pointing out that there are genetic algorithms which are assembled in just such a way.

    You’re completely wrong to say that there is no evidence that ‘bodies’ (Oh dear! Ancient philosophy alert.) can be assembled by chance, as that is essentially what evolution has done. Obviously, evolution has a selection mechanism as well as a random variation mechanism, but you get my point. I assume you accept that evolution is a fact?

  28. Hmmm.
    swordfishtrombone July 3, 2017 at 10:05 am

    “I claim that “Evolution” is scientifically impossible.”

    Good luck with that. Not only is evolution possible, it’s inevitable and still happening. You’re disputing 100 years of evidence, scientific study and experimentation. Instead of arguing with a nobody like me, why not try commenting on evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne’s blog and see what he’s got to say about your theory?

    I am not proposing a “theory”, I am rejecting an impossible “hypothesis”. Why don’t you get your Jerry Coyne to propose his impossible ideological fancies to real scientists?

    If your premise is that the Universe is an “Evolution” out of “no Universe” (as in nothing) to a Universe (out of a Big Bang with no cause) then you will need to demonstrate (logically) that all things that did not exist caused themselves to exist and that all things that don’t exist are “becoming” into existence.

    I suspect that you are an adolescent ideologue who is applying the Alinskyite “social reform” package for a financial reward.

  29. [quote= fishblaring] Not only is evolution possible, it’s inevitable and still happening. You’re disputing 100 years of evidence, scientific study and experimentation. Instead of arguing with a nobody like me, why not try commenting on evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne’s blog and see what he’s got to say about your theory? [/quote]

    “Evolution”, according to the Naturalist/Darwinist paradigm does not occur, never has occurred, and can not occur as all scientific observations attest.

    Mere assertions based on ideological suppositions do not create reality, or truth.

    Now, as some wise man said on another section of comments on this blog, no argument is convincing to whom premises are ignored or rejected. Perceived “truth” is an extrapolation of premises.

    If your premise is that everything is in a process of “becoming” out of nowhere (nothing) then everything is of that “creative” process. There is no good or evil, there is only the consumers and the consumed (survival of the “fittest”, or the cruelest, or the most narcissistic God-haters).

    About 40 years ago the most densely populated country on earth (people per square kilometre of national boundaries; the Netherlands) was a net exporter of food. The productive potential of the Earth is prodigious. It just needs to be rid of the kind of experverts who proclaimed, over a hundred years ago, that London couldn’t get any bigger because they couldn’t dispose of all the horse shit.

  30. @ Oldavid:

    “Why don’t you get your Jerry Coyne to propose his impossible ideological fancies to real scientists?”

    No true Scotsman fallacy. Too chicken to take up my challenge then?

    “If your premise is that the Universe is an “Evolution” out of “no Universe” (as in nothing) …”

    The theory of evolution has nothing to do with the big bang. Regarding you picture of the universe coming ‘out of nothing’, as I’ve said before, what is this ‘nothing’? There is no evidence for the existence of anything other than the universe and no reason to invent a prior ‘nothing’ state from which the universe appears.

    “I suspect that you are an adolescent ideologue”

    I wish! But if I come across as young, I take that as a compliment.

    “Mere assertions based on ideological suppositions do not create reality, or truth.”

    Quite correct. That’s why I’m suggesting that you look at the very considerable evidence in favour of evolution rather than rejecting it for purely ideological reasons.

    “There is no good or evil, there is only the consumers and the consumed (survival of the “fittest”, or the cruelest, or the most narcissistic God-haters).”

    One thing missing from your picture here is empathy. We imagine how others feel, so most of us try and be nice to others, even if that originally stems from a survival instinct.

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